You wanted to do the right thing. You went out on a limb. You floated a conversation about values. It flopped. Badly. Now all you want to do is take it back so you can hide back into your shell. Pretend nothing happened. Pretend you didn’t just hear and see what you heard and saw.
I have been bruised more times than I can count. Sometimes I learned things about time and place to have these conversations, and I fine-tuned my approach going forward (it takes two…). Sometimes it flopped spectacularly in the here and now. And then a few years later I got feedback by either that person, or people from that orbit, how much of a difference it made, and how that was a massively powerful intervention (sometimes you influence an organization more by leaving than you could by staying). And sometimes the content was right but the form and delivery might have been off, which, too, is a learning opportunity.
Wherever you are, don’t underestimate the amount of reach and radiance a person has with clear values, who stand up for them and for others when they get violated. That is what leaders do – regardless of your job title. Your wingspan is bigger than you think, and you will reach and inspire people even though you might never hear about it. Trust that.
A note on that: When somebody does that for you, tell them what difference they made. This can be a tough fight and bring on some of the deepest moments of loneliness in the midst of it, as a lot of the crucial conversations are private or in small groups (and often rightfully so). Knowing something you did made a difference for someone else out there is so important to keep the strength to keep going. As a bonus, when you do reach out, these might well be some of the best apprenticeship/mentoring type of conversations you will ever have. Go for it!