Active Listening – What is it and how important is it?

Pauses are often viewed these days as “awkward silence”. We scramble to fill it with noise… the noise of any kind, beneficial or not. Our lives are scripted to background music on our Insta-stories. Quiet even makes some of us nervous, uncomfortable. We conversate, but do not “saturate”. What I mean by this is we do not truly immerse ourselves in conversation as some of the generations that have gone before us. The technology wasn’t there to distract us. Before we address Active Listening and what it is, let us address the reasons why we listen.

Why we Listen

  • To glean information
  • To understand, wrap our heads around the subject matter
  • For pleasure and enjoyment

Bad Listening Habits – What are they?

  • Looking away – not focusing on the person speaking
  • Multi-tasking – fiddling on your phone, etc.
  • Talking over someone as they are trying to speak
  • Pre-occupation – being wrapped up in your own thought process and focusing on your next thought or response

Ok, Active Listening – What is it and what are the benefits?

Active Listening has several key components. They are:

  • Sole Focus
    • Eyes fixed on the person speaking
    • Preferably minimize possible distractions prior to beginning the conversation
    • Practice accessible body language
    • Appropriate and timely facial expressions – smiles, frowns, cringes, etc.
  • Acknowledgement beyond the slim bounds of “hmm”, “uh-huh” and nodding your head yes or no
  • Active feedback during intentional breaks in the conversation
  • Instead of interrupting or confronting, ask for clarification – ask insightful questions
  • Openness and neutrality in your responses

Now, the BENEFITS:

  • Clarifying information wins out over misunderstandings and undue confrontation
  • It builds a basis of trust between individuals, strengthening bonds of friendship or business affiliates/connections
  • It attributes value from one person to another
  • It takes us away from our pre-conceived mindsets and open our minds to other perspectives
  • The more we listen, the more compassion we develop for other’s needs
  • Think Golden Rule principle – how we want to feel is most likely how others want to feel. We want to be heard, paid attention to, valued, to feel important.

We exhibit these needs in everything we do these days from our posts on Instagram, Facebook, our Snaps, our Tik-Toks…we seek validation and approval. Let’s give it forward in how we treat others that are communicating with us and become better communicators ourselves, better professionals….maybe simply better humans.

Is Oxford the Next High-Growth Area for Southern Chester County?

Oxford Borough

Growth moves down the corridor of US-1, maybe not at the speed or intensity of the commercial property pricing drops or increases from east to west, north to south, but nonetheless, it moves.

The pandemic has hit so many small “mom and pop” towns with lethal blows to their economy and small business bases. As a local resident, I have been discouraged by seeing businesses close up over the COVID-19 pandemic, but I have also been encouraged by the way that the Oxford/Nottingham community has pulled together to support local and helped existing businesses sustain and even thrive in spite of the challenges they face, and as a bonus, encourage new entrepreneurship within the area with new “pop-up” establishments, like the “Rudolph’s Bourbon Bar” over the Christmas Holiday Season. Our local leaders really stepped up to the challenge of the “new normal”. Cameron’s Hardware helped us by offering no-contact pickup, and other retailers offered delivery via UBER eats and DoorDash. We saw what I’d like to call “Creative Sustainability” all around us. Existing local businesses like DuBarry have created brick-and-mortar spaces fronting on “Oxford Main Street” and are doing quite well. Home to great local eateries like Sawmill Grill, The Octoraro Tavern & Grill, Wholly Grounds, La Sicilia, Andres, the Nottingham Creamery, and Little Miss Oxford Diner, this town is full of character and charm. The new parking garage is a tremendous benefit to the retailers in our area. Oxford is also home to large businesses such as Neuchatel Chocolates, Tasty Baking Company, and The Scotts Company.

We are watching local entrepreneurs emerging such as the Whisky Shack, Smokin Dragons, Pickled Pickles, and Sweet Cakes, bringing new life and excitement to our area.

The Preston & Steve Show featured our own BellyBusters as one of the top 10 cheesesteaks of 1,000 different varieties taste-tested in the area! Now that’s impressive! Oxford Mainstreet Inc. announced that First Fridays will be starting up again in April. That’s just around the corner! There’s a lot of positive things going on in Southern Chester County during this arduous pandemic.

We have a unique opportunity available within the borough limits to present to you:

  • 6,895 sf
  • 2 story office building
  • 40 car parking
  • Could be used as:
    • Office
    • Medical
    • Flex
    • Institutional
    • Finance
    • Professional Services
  • 1st floor amenities:
    • 11 Cubicle Offices
    • 2 Private Offices with smoke glass privacy
    • 1 Large Conference Room with smoke glass privacy
    • 1 Small Conference Room
    • 1 reception area
    • 2 restrooms
    • Large kitchenette area/employee lunchroom
    • Heated storage area
    • Roll-up drive-in delivery door (8×8) in the rear
  • 2nd floor amenities:
    • 18 cubicle offices
    • 3 private offices
    • Server room
    • Small kitchenette area
    • 1 coat closet
    • 2 restrooms

Click here to tour this amazing space virtually:

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day 2022

His legacy and impact live on. Martin Luther King, Jr. dedicated his entire existence to a non-violent challenge to the civil and racial injustice in America.

In a sermon he delivered in 1956, he impacted the congregation with this sobering thought, ““I am afraid that many among you are more concerned about making a living than making a life. You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of the wheelbase on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity. The misuse of Capitalism can also lead to tragic exploitation.”.

In 1964, he conducted a lecture in which he challenged the hearers, “”I am only too well aware of the human weaknesses and failures which exist, the doubts about the efficacy of nonviolence, and the open advocacy of violence by some. But I am still convinced that nonviolence is both the most practically sound and morally excellent way to grapple with the age-old problem of racial injustice.”

In his final speech, less than 24 hours before his assassination, he charged the striking sanitation workers with this, ““We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point, in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike, but either we go up together, or we go down together.”

How are you celebrating his legacy of faith, freedom, service and justice today?

Leave us a comment below and share with us how you are celebrating MLK’s legacy today….

Effectively Communicating and Intentional Personal Focus During a Pandemic

Admit it. Everything is just WEIRD. Our “New Normal” is ANYTHING but normal. I’ve noticed that it’s even affected the most basic of communications. Sometimes I think that because from childhood we have associated masks with pretending to be someone else and hiding our identity, wearing one has caused a lot of us to exhibit our associations subconsciously. We are the same person – pre-covid and post-covid. However, there is a strangeness, even to the point of awkwardness in personal interaction and communications these days.

Statue wearing a mask

As a Commercial Real Estate Brokerage, our business is hinged on communications. Yes knowledge and expertise is power, but if you are unable to convey those things to your client, they are useless.

Our intentional attempts to keep in front of our clients and prospects should be top priority. While maintaining our social distancing and protective measures, we must communicate person to real person. Fear causes people to act strangely, to react strangely. We are seeing this trend in commercial real estate. Some investors and buyers are throwing caution to the wind and making major moves, despite the pandemic. Others are closing their blinds and their minds to any thoughts of considering a covid real estate transaction. We as professionals should be flexible, understanding, and respectful of other’s reactions to this crisis. We should be the value-added asset during this time, helping them maintain profitability and achieve their goals in spite of this virus. It’s all about making good connections and then maintaining them.

Good connections are made when:

Embrace Diversity and Turn Off Your “Presets” – Not only skin color and gender, but age and geographic regions. We’re all different and it’s wonderful. Commercial Real Estate desperately needs diversity, but I know we’re not the only ones. We’ve made strides, but we have a long way to go. Be the game changer at your business and set the example of unity in diversity.

The eyes are the windows to the soul – When you are speaking, look me in the eye and focus on me. Make me feel like you want to invest your time in communicating with me. Even with a mask on, your eyes speak multitudes about how you’re feeling about what is being discussed.

Remember, you’re not speaking to a screen, you’re speaking to a person. For some reason, we don’t have conversations the same way “virtually”. If you are video chatting, stay engaged and animated during conversation just as if they were across the table. Don’t stare at your image, look at them directly. Until we can be face to face, we’ve got to make this work. It will work better if we act like it’s not a screen between us.

“It’s about the bottom line” You’ve heard it more than once in Commercial Real Estate and other industry sectors. Does this mean you don’t need a personality to sell #CRE? Think again. People like to feel respected and valued. And yes, a lot of us are on edge and more impatient during Covid-19. Have grace with each other. Smooth the rough edges with a pleasant response. Call back within a reasonable amount of time. Humans are wired for relationship. We make connections. We should strive to not only make sales, but be better humans.

Take our communications poll:

Business: Expectations vs. Reality

Our Next Steps as Business Owners

Businesses have been swept up in a whirlwind these last few months, some still in a holding pattern, some barely surviving and others, well….thriving.

Let’s step back for a moment. Think about when you decided to start your business. Remember the vision that seemed like it was “placed” in your brain? Whether you used vision boards or something as simple as graphing paper and #2 pencil, it flowed out of you because you saw something, you knew something, you put it together in your mind and it came out as a plan which then became framework, which became a business model, then business plan and so on and so forth and the rest is history, right?

Now, let’s step into the here and now once again. Here we are, fellow business owner, in the middle of a pandemic and newly evolving guidelines presented to you practically every morning. You are meeting with your management team via zoom or spread out in your conference room awkwardly, observing social distancing requirements. Finances, Human Resources, Safety Committees, Operations on “high alert”…so many factors, so many things to manage. Is there light at the end of the tunnel, or is this more like a cyclone?

America has experienced catastrophic situations since its inception. Through each tumultuous trial that we have faced as a nation, one thing has been a constant. Americans are resilient. American business owners are fierce. We are innovators, inventors, and imaginations run wild, even when chaos is all around us.

From what I am observing, the businesses that are “thriving” have taken a moment, poured a cup of coffee or tea, turned off the noise and had a reality check of their own. You’re sitting there in your quiet place, probably holding your head, saying to yourself, “I had a plan, I have expectations…now what?!?”

Don’t forget every expectation that you had coming into 2020, however, you are going to need a reset mentally and operationally because as with all of the aspects of life, we have to adjust our expectations to meet our current circumstances. Some businesses are still rolling along because they’ve made “adjustments”. They didn’t loose their identity nor did they throw their vision in file 13. They did re-envision their business models and came up with ways to continue to offer their services, manufacture and sell their products in innovative ways that worked in a COVID-19 environment.

So, a word of encouragement to business owners who feel like they are in the cyclone rather than a brief stint in the tunnel: You were visionary and innovative and creative and clever when you started this business of yours. You still ARE! Gather your team and have brainstorming, collaborative sessions. Make ways in the desert. Focus on the positive. In 2020, you have so many different internet/digital avenues to keep your message, your brand, even your new offerings out in front of your potential client base. Make your name known. Provide special offers to potential clients. Create community by making a concerted effort to build a “fan base” within your social media channels. Make friends with other local business owners and give them props on your channels. Feed the unity and draw the community closer together in this time “apart”, and thrive in this season of uncertainty. Your new normal, your new reality might be your next favorite vision.

The Connective Art & Music Festival is this weekend

Image result for connective art & music festival

This Saturday in Oxford is the place to be as three stages of bands, lots of great artwork, and fun and games for all ages converge throughout “Main Street” Oxford. HERR’S is hosting this event and WXPN is providing radio sponsorship for the event. This year’s headliner will be the 90’s band, Blind Melon. Oxford Borough is offering free parking. Come join your local community for all of this, plus food trucks, street performers, cold craft brews and wine from our local vineyards. For tickets and information, visit http://www.connectivefestival.org

(8.2.19 ~ tickettoentertainment.com)

 

Contentions Heighten between Aqua PA and Chester Water

drops-of-water-578897_1920Aqua Pennsylvania and Chester Water are apparently not playing nicely together. According to the Daily Local News, Aqua PA has filed suit against CWA over their agreement with the city of Chester. Because Aqua has an existing agreement with CWA which constitutes four system connections, any rate change that is approved trickles downstream, literally. (pardon the pun)

Marc Lucca, President of Aqua Pennsylvania has expressed his serious concerns over the 10% rate hike due to a settlement with the city of Chester which tops off over $60 million dollars.  The trickle is actually an understatement. This action produces approximately $75,000 of additional pass-through costs to current Aqua customers with no perks whatsoever.

water-2825771_1920.jpg

Aqua has already begun efforts to build their own pipelines in Ridley Township and Nether Providence, putting CWA on notice that they’re terminating their contracts for those municipalities.

Can this partnership be mended back together? According to Mr. Lucca, these irresponsible rate hikes are causing huge trust issues. Because CWA is not governed by PUC, they have the capacity to bump up their rates whenever they feel like it. We’ll see what the Delaware County Common Pleas Court ruling determines.

(References: Daily Local News ~ dailylocal.com)

 

 

New Garden has a New Tool in their Conservation Tool Belt

field-1285991_1920Eighteen municipalities in Chester County have embraced the “Official Map” measure. Our neighboring township of New Garden has jumped on the bandwagon recently.

These Official Maps are projected to be useful tool to protect open spaces. However, there is a catch. The end game is for the municipality to amass land. If you, Mr. or Mrs. Property owner decide to construct on your existing parcel or choose to subdivide, you must notify the township. The clock starts ticking at that point and the township has a defined time frame to negotiate a “fair market price” for the parcel.

Note that this is not eminent domain or condemnation of property. This tool basically gives them right of first refusal for your property. If they have no interest in purchasing your property, then you are permitted to proceed with your plans within the township’s navigational beacons.

Reference: Daily Local News ~ dailylocal.com

 

 

 

Then You Crash Into Me: The Commercial Real Estate Industry after Legalized Marijuana

herb-2915337The love/hate relationship that seems to be forming between the Commercial Real Estate industry and Marijuana may or may not be on your radar, but it is reality.

Fully legal in nine states, one inhabited territory, three native-American reservations, not to mention Washington D.C., it’s impact has been felt across multiple industries. Some cheer, others protest, but regardless, we in the commercial real estate industry need to be educated on the basic legalities as it has become commonplace for medical use and in some areas, recreationally acceptable as well. The federal law mandates that it be grown and manufactured in the state in which it is sold/consumed.

The demand and, in turn, the value for warehouse and industrial properties has significantly increased in affected regions. Climate controlled warehouses and distressed properties including former storage, data, and manufacturing are all being acquistioned and repurposed. Even the limping retail sector has been affected as in those states where retail sales have been sanctioned, as marijuana retail shops have breathed life into some of those long-time vacancies.

Here’s a run down of the basics for our region:

Pennsylvania: Medical Marijuana approved by Governor Wolf in April of 2016

Maryland: Decriminalized and Medical Use/Manufacturing/Distribution approved

Delaware: Decriminalized and Medical Use/Manufacturing/Distribution approved

New Jersey: Governor Jon Corzine signed Medical Marijuana law in January of 2010

 

There are concerns that this may be another real estate bubble that eventually pops. Even though concerns remain, this industry has sparked new property interest and investment pursuits that we in the industry cannot deny. Both Brokers and Property Owners alike seem to be riding the wave while they can. Time will tell as always.