We all want to be heard. When we’re talking, it’s important to feel like the person on the other end of the table listens to us, considers what we’re saying, and validates our feelings. We don’t always need the other person to agree, but we do need to feel understood.

Unfortunately, in our effort to be heard, we focus solely on what we’re thinking and feeling, and neglect the other person in the conversation. Our words search for connection, but our actions send a different message. Without meaning to, we’re building walls instead of bridges in our relationships.

Here’s where empathy comes in. Empathy, it turns out, is the tool we need to transform that wall into a bridge. It is THE relationship game-changer, and lucky for us, our human brains come with everything we need to use it. However, just like the other muscles in our bodies, if we don’t exercise the empathy parts of our brain, they atrophy. And then we get into that habit of talking at other people instead of speaking with them.

That “with” is critical. That “with” is what fosters connection. That “with” is what I’m here to help you develop.

My name is Ali and I’m a mom, business owner and sociologist. I earned my PhD while raising two children and working both in organizations and on my own business, so I’ve got lots of experience dealing with how a crazy busy life can impact on relationships.

As a sociologist, I’m obsessed with communities – what it takes to build them, and how they get destroyed. I’ve spent years studying people in online and offline communities, and I’ve figured out some keys to happy, healthy connections.

For most of my career, I’ve traveled around the country and shared these ideas with schools, organizations, and businesses. Yet I’ve also run up against red tape and bureaucratic messes that blocked my message from getting to those who needed it most: individuals. That’s why I’m here with you now.

I’m fully committed to sharing tools directly with those who want them — people like you. The tools aren’t complicated, however they do require learning, practice, and a different way of thinking than many of us were taught. If you’re up for it, I’m 100% certain you can do it.

As you explore this site, you’ll see a lot about connecting with kids, because as parents, teachers, counselors, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc., many of us have kids in our lives. And connecting with kids can be difficult. We ignore where they’re coming from. We make assumptions about their actions. We forget they are people with fully formed thoughts and opinions. Engaging our empathy muscles will change the default settings in our brain, and bring us closer to being the kinds of “grown-ups” we’d wanted in our lives when we were kids.

Families are the foundation of our communities. And helping people create home lives where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued is an important place to start. But I’m not going to stop there. Our cities, states, countries, and yes, our world, can become kinder, healthier, more tolerant places if we all learn how to super-charge the empathy circuitry in our brain, and use this powerful muscle to build bridges and knock down walls in our relationships. All of it starts with just a few small steps I can show you right now.

Are you in?

“Dr. Ali’s ability to speak candidly, while providing the tools, tips and ideas we as parents need to help our children was greatly valued and appreciated. She is excellent [and] knowledgeable about the complex lives of youth and the dynamics among parents and children.”

Laura Laub

Vice President, Middle School PTSA, Sleepy Hollow Middle School

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