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Lessons Learned From Football’s Replacement Referee Debacle

By guest blogger George Drucker

No, it wasn’t a touchdown. And the lack of professionalism among the “replacement” referees caused one of the greatest uproars in the history of sports. It could have led to a major crisis in public confidence for the NFL.

Professionalism can never be taken for granted. It applies to referees . . . and it applies to public relations practitioners, particularly when the pressure’s on.

Here are some ways that maintaining professionalism in high-stress situations can dial back the tension, save a relationship and increase your value to a client or colleague. Please consider them or chances are you’ll just fumble away the opportunity to neutralize or negate an escalating situation.

Reflect before you react.
Allow the heat of the moment to simmer down while you think about every possible scenario and its possible consequences before moving forward.

Don’t go on the defensive.
If you’re wrong, that means with an apology. Most people appreciate contrition. Those who accept and “fess up” to responsibility tend to be more readily forgiven.

Think about who will “quarterback” the situation.
Who responds in a negative situation can be as important as the information and messages conveyed. The Commissioner of the NFL had greater impact and credibility than the head of referees.

Consider a team “shake-up”
Although no one member may be at fault for a certain snafu, sometimes fresh faces produce positive change.

Please share with us any ways that you have scored big by applying some cool-headed professionalism to a heated situation.

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