A year or so ago I was out walking with some friends from work. We were on our way to an event. I said something super mean - like Mean Girls mean - about a new co-worker. The joke was NSFW and something along the lines of, “That guy is so clueless that he's harmless.”
One of the young women walking with me spoke up:
Nuh-uh. Not cool. That was mean.
I felt ill. She was right. It was out of line, and it wasn't funny. In that moment my respect for that young woman grew two-fold.
When we find ourselves in a conversation that's taking a turn for the worse, we make a choice: to acquiesce, to ignore the offense, or to call it like we see it.
I hope that more often than not we'll find the courage to call it like we see it, especially in our workplaces and professional networks, not because people should live in fear of infractions, but because when people share their honest, natural reactions to behavior, we're all granted opportunities to learn.