The Let’s Fix Work podcast is a fun project and has opened up new relationships in my life. We recently published episode 22, and, after nearly two-dozen conversations about fixing work, I’m more convinced than ever that the modern world of work is broken.

Some people disagree with me, which makes for interesting discussions. Sometimes, people decline to be on my show because the word “broken” feels a little too strong.

Other times, potential guests object to the word “fix.” One person told me that it’s not the right word. Work is “too complex” and “fix is the wrong word” to use for such a nuanced topic.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I thanked him for his time and wrote, “I believe winners fix things.”

(Have to thank my new buddy Jesse Itzler for those inspired words.)

I don’t mind it when people say no. I decline many things. It’s all about tone and intention. When you say no with good intent, it means the world. Be kind and polite. Those are the new rules of work. But if you say no and act like a fool, you deserve to be told.

A few months ago, I invited an esteemed professor and author to be on my podcast. He has a new book out, and it’s pretty good. Wanted him on Let’s Fix Work as a guest and then feature his book in the HR Book Club. So, I reached out on LinkedIn and he invited me to move the conversation over to email.

I followed up via email, and here is his reply.

Whoa, okay, whiplash.

It’s not the worst response, but it’s not the best. And I love how he thinks my audience isn’t big enough for his time commitment — as if we’re measuring reach and resonance in inches.

I laughed at out loud and the response, but then thought about why he chose to respond so negatively.

1. Maybe he’s crusty, clueless and harmless.

2. It’s possible that he enjoys turning the screws and gives feedback to feel superior over people.

3. He is grieving in some way, and the 180-degree response has nothing to do with me.

I’m not in the business of disparaging anybody’s character, so I’ll keep his name private. But it’s curious how older white men in power still feel that it’s okay to talk to women like this. Haven’t we just had a global discussion on #MeToo and power?

Also, it’s even more interesting how someone who “knows business” doesn’t know how to write a more appropriate response. Someone needs to teach this dude some manners. Or maybe not. Maybe you don’t need manners when you’re old and esteemed. I wouldn’t know.

Here’s what I do know: People will ping you for your time for all kinds of ridiculous reasons. Not every request warrants a response, but how you respond is your responsibility. At a bare minimum, be respectful. Also, check your assumptions about the incoming request. Maybe it’s not as ridiculous as it seems?

I also believe that, in a world that’s so cruel and thoughtless, it’s easy to be kind. I’m going to use my blog and podcast to fix work. Part of my mission is to make sure you never respond to people like the esteemed professor responded to me.

Want to fix work? Have some manners. It starts right there.