I met my husband Brian, who is Irish, on my first trip to Dublin in 1995. I moved permanently to live here from Chile after we got married in 1998. I became an executive and confidence coach as a career change. Now my work is much more in alignment with my personal values.
Motivation and confidence training are part of my core strengths. All through my marketing and coaching career, the ability to motivate, coach, mentor and develop people has always energised me.
Confidence ultimately is a feeling and it is about having trust in your own abilities. It is more than just about being Irish or American or any nationality. It has more to do with circumstances, events and personality profiles.
Are people sceptical about my work in Ireland? Not at all. We all want more confidence. Being sceptical perhaps might indicate some subtle form of resistance to change, but that is okay. When you are ready for change you want it straight away.
There is a universal misunderstanding around assertiveness. We are talking about appropriate behaviour. Arrogance, shouting or being passive aggressive won't take you there. My role is to show people how to develop an assertive mind set.
Bossiness or bitchiness has nothing to do with being assertive and that is the big misunderstanding. Becoming assertive doesn't mean you have to have a personality transplant but in my experience women might have less opportunities to practice this skill in the workplace.
For me, a regular work week will entail one-to-one private practice, executive coaching contracts, private or public workshops and corporate training. I work with a wide range of occupations, age and gender. The coaching topics will depend on the client: confidence, assertiveness, exit strategy and career progression, time management, decision making, prioritising and so on.
I have my own coaching style. It is energetic, focused on results and down to earth, with a Chilean twist of course. So if that is what you are after we will work great together. To keep sharp, a work-life balance is very important so exercise, good nutrition, meditation and contact with nature are all part of my week.
A client blooming from a meek into a confident person happens all the time in front of my eyes, and every time it happens it is very rewarding for me. In my own life, I am a confident person and motivation comes naturally. However, becoming assertive took trial and error and I had to develop that skill through my own marketing and commercial career. It took me a while to find my own voice during conflict, especially when confronting aggressive and bullying behaviour until I realised the freedom that comes with standing your ground in an appropriate way.
The motivation behind me delivering assertiveness training programmes started from my own experience. My aim with these programmes is to help explain how to become assertive and give participants in some ways a 'shortcut' to save them going through trials and errors as I did.
I am fascinated by energy field therapies, like Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and Tapas Acupressure Technique. I am already qualified as a Master Practitioner in Meridian Energy Therapies and my plan is to keep up to date with all the new developments in the field.
People can become immediately assertive in their own lives. Some key points are: be clear on the outcome you want to achieve. Economy of words is key. Stick to your message, avoiding explanations and apologies. Match your body language to your tone and message. Learn how to say 'no'. Practice these as much as you can. Remember, assertiveness is a skill.
In conversation with Tanya Sweeney
Maria will host an Assertiveness and Confidence-Building Workshop at the 5th Annual Executive PA, Secretary & Admin Forum at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin, Golden Lane on May 19-20. For more information visit radissonblu.ie/royalhotel-dublin or for ticket bookings contact email@example.com