Everyone makes mistakes.  Whether you’re an agent, a broker, a manager, or an owner, everyone makes mistakes regardless of how many years they’ve been working in the business, how many clients they’ve served, or how many houses they’ve sold.  Mistakes happen.  Breathe.  Nothing is permanent.  And even if it is, do your best to salvage your reputation and dignity and then move on.

Here are some suggestions that may help if and when you do make a mistake.

  1.  This is no time for a fight or flight scenario.  Sit tight.  Calm down.  Gather your train of thought and plan to deal with the situation, whatever the situation is.
  2. Carefully assess the situation before taking any action.  Is the mistake as horrendous as you think it is?  Ask your mentor and or highly trusted colleague to go through the whole thing with you from beginning to end, step by step by step.  Plan to follow up with whomever is/was involved tomorrow, not today.
  3. After coming to grips with the situation, follow up.  If possible, make face to face contact with the person involved.  If not, schedule a meeting with that person for as soon as possible. Make a phone call to that person even if they don’t take your call. Be humble.  Be direct.  Be personal.  Be apologetic. Write a note.  Write an email.  “Fix” the mistake as much as possible today and then leave it.  Making too much of the mistake over and over again may lead the person involved to zero in on it more than they would have in the first place.
  4. Learn from your mistake(s).  Steve Grant, the vice president of operations with Energy Solutions Direct says, “Owning your mistake is the best way to ‘heal’ a situation…A bad pitch is one thing; a lifetime of bad pitches is quite another.”
  5. Give the situation time.  Everyone heals in their own way and within their own time frame, not yours.  Dial in to how everyone and everything is going.  “It can take a significant amount of time to repair a relationship,” says Grant.
  6. Apologize.  In person if at all possible. Even if there’s no hope in rectifying the mistake and/or situation and regardless of what you think the future holds.  Apologize but don’t over apologize…it can be annoying.
  7. Ask a mentor or trusted colleague to go to bat alongside you.  Even if your broker is irked by your mistake, seek the support of a veteran agent in your office when having to fess up.
  8. Put yourself in their shoes and think of the larger picture.  Always remember what it’s like to be on the other end of a mistake.  Steve Grant is of the opinion that the person who has made the mistake can be coached on both the positives and the negatives of his/her misguided actions/words, can then regroup and then try again the next day.  Remember, nothing is forever.
  9. Let it go!  Know that regardless of your most sincere apology or your most inventive “repair” plan, some people will never forgive and forget, will never let you off the hook.  If that’s the case, realize that you can’t change their minds whatever you do and then let it go…gradually.