“The important thing isn’t the mistake that is made, it’s how you recover,” my client told me a couple years ago after I accidentally brought the wrong data to our listing appointment. I don’t remember how exactly I recovered, but I know we laughed.
I wasn’t laughing last Friday, though, when I realized upon final review of a file that I forgot to order inspections for a house due to close Monday. Quite honestly, I was pissed. Very seldom do I make mistakes. I’m not bragging, mind you. I seldom make mistakes because I’m careful, diligent, anal, and tend to over-analyze and closely examine everything I do. It’s exhausting to live this way, but it’s how I function. And I make few mistakes because of it.
So when I do mess up, it sinks me quick. I wallow in self-pity and kick myself a few times. But I can’t stay like that for long. For one, I hate feeling stupid. And two, there isn’t time! There is a problem to solve, a mess to clean up, and I’m the one that has to do it. I caused the issue, so I have to fix it.
Make a Plan. Once the mistake is identified, jump into action. Examine the situation and see who can help solve the problem. This is the person who can actually help you fix it (usually the other agent, lender or title company), not who you think just needs to ride the stress train with you until it’s resolved (usually the client). For example, did you forget to add the new stainless steel refrigerator into the sale? Call the other agent and ask if the seller is willing to leave it. Depending on the results of that call, you’ll have a plan to follow that will eventually lead to a resolution.
Make Phone Calls. Calling is better than texting in these bad news situations. It’s scarier, but you can hear their reaction better and address their feelings quicker. There is a reason why horror books are scarier than horror movies. When our imagination is left to fill in the space around words, things go downhill quick. And this is true for both sides of the conversation. The reaction you get by making your confession voice-to-voice won’t be nearly as bad as the one you could create via texting.
Be Direct. I LOATHE excuses. My seller doesn’t care that I’ve been swamped, overbooked, exhausted, and more focused on the repairs being made on the house than the inspections needing done. Sure, excuses might make ourselves feel better, but it doesn’t make the other person feel better at all. Excuses are crap. No one other than you cares about them. Just say, “I messed up, I’m sorry, and I’m fixing it.” Cut to the chase. People appreciate this approach way more. It saves time, and makes you appear more professional and in control.
Communicate often. Once you’ve admitted the mistake and the plan you have to fix it, you need to relay the progress you’ve made for fixing it. Communication is key. People will accept that a mistake has been made as long as they see that you care enough to rectify it.
My client was correct. It isn’t the mistake that was made, but it’s how we recover from it. The important thing isn’t the actual mistake- it’s inevitable that there will be some made- but it’s the approach you take to fix it, communicate it, learn from it, and then the ability to allow yourself to move forward from it. Don’t beat yourself up. We all make mistakes. Go ahead and strive for perfection, but allow yourself to accept a correction. We are all imperfect. And it’s okay.
Amy Gilpin, Associate Broker, Manager, ABR, SRES.
Fourteen years of helping clients. Six years of helping agents. All for this crazy thing we call real estate.
Production Realty 517-879-4141 Jackson, MI Amy@ProductionRealty.com