In business and in life, it’s better to take the high road and do the right thing. It’s quite true that the people you meet on the way up may be the same people you meet on the way down.

This doesn’t only apply within a corporate setting. It applies to vendors, suppliers, employees, contractors, and customers.

In our hyper-connected world, the last thing you want to do is get someone so irate they troll you or your company, write a scathing review, or tell everyone they know how crappy your thing is.

If you mess up – even if it wasn’t your fault – recognize the mistake and try to make up for the error.

Whether you believe in karma, or you are simply mitigating the risk of someone potentially going off on you, it’s a good use of your time and resources.

The power of a sincere apology

In personal and professional relationships there is huge power in making a sincere apology. You know that old saying that you should never apologize or explain? Forget you ever heard that.

Anyone who has ever worked on a help desk, and personally I think everyone should have to do that in their career, knows that letting the customer vent and acknowledging you understand their frustration can save you hours and headaches.

Add a sincere apology for their inconvenience on top, and you might even keep the customer and turn them into an advocate.

The benefits of maintaining relationships

Every single business person has had a situation where they wanted to burn the bridge and never interact with that person or organization again.

If you are dealing with a situation where someone has committed fraud or embezzled money, this could be the right strategy.

However, if the person or situation just was a mess, you might consider trying to save the relationship, or coming back with an olive branch at a later date.

I had a strained relationship with a former manager. They were extremely competent, but we butted heads on multiple occasions. However, I continued to interact nicely with them on Facebook. Years later, they hired me to update their resume. That’s an opportunity I would have missed out on if I had burned that bridge.

In your business, selling to an existing customer is much more profitable than trying to sign up a new customer.

And when you lose a customer you lose a potential referral source.

Also, if you need to exit your business for some reason, the fastest way to get a job is to reach out to former vendors and customers because they already know and like you, which makes your job search much easier and faster.

Good relationships are what make for happy personal lives and healthy businesses. We all mess up, but we tend to hold other people to a higher standard.

We’d like to be forgiven quickly for our mistakes, and yet we may be slow to forgive others.

I strongly recommend starting a policy of forgiving yourself, making good to others when you make a mistake, and making up wherever possible.