Consider asking for legal advice before apologizing if you are concerned admitting your mistake may put you at risk of being sued.

You are going to make mistakes in real estate. How you handle them makes all the difference. Apologies can rebuild trust with clients and protect your reputation long-term. Make sure your next apology includes the following characteristics.

Proportion. Understand what went wrong and craft your response to match it. You may be able to smooth over a poor choice of words with heartfelt remorse. A larger mistake may require action steps and accountability to fix. An apology that is too small or too large will not be effective.

Sincerity. If you’re going to apologize, mean it. Acknowledge directly what went wrong and your part in it. Understand how your actions have hurt the other person. Avoid fake apologies that miss the point or dodge responsibility; those are worse than no apology at all.

Timeliness. Mistakes should be addressed promptly. Your response does not need to be immediate, but it must be delivered soon after the mistake took place. Within one to three days is a good ballpark timeframe.

Follow Up. Tell the other person how you plan to fix the mistake. How long will it take? What steps must be taken? When will you be in contact again? Share next steps and then complete them when you say you will to rebuild credibility.

Prevention. What will you do to make sure this same mistake does not happen again? Tell the other person what you will do differently going forward. Perhaps you add an item to a checklist or take additional training. Maybe your firm creates a new policy. This shows you have taken the situation seriously.

Done correctly, a great apology can not only mend a business relationship but solidify it. Treat these missteps as opportunities to make things right and show what you and your business are all about.