Reply All…Let’s Not!

ive-never-been-held-hostage-but-ive-been-on-a-group-text-feb05Have you ever been on one of those never ending ‘reply all’ emails?  Absolute agony.  People, it is 2014 why can we not figure out how to properly use the ‘reply all’ function? To me, reply all simply means “cover your ass” because that is usually why someone uses the ‘reply all’ function.

Just the other day I explained it like this…person A. (let’s call him Jack) Jack needs an answer to a question and so he emails the 8 members of his team hoping that someone in that group will know the answer.  (Jack could also pick up the phone or {God forbid} walk to someone’s office but I will save that for another blog post) Perfectly fine for Jack to email the 8 staffers but here’s what usually happens next.  Person B. (let’s call her Sally) Sally immediately replies all with the answer to Jack’s question thus winning the make believe game in her head that you must be first to reply all! Then person C. (…Bob) Bob also replies all with the answer just mere seconds after Sally and so on and so on. Meanwhile person H. (YOU) gets out of their meeting and has 48 emails in their inbox…WTH?

In this instance, NO ONE should reply all.  Jack is the one who posed his question to 8 people, only Jack should suffer the 8 email responses not the other 8 people.  Now I know what the reply allers will say “But how do we know if Jack got his answer if we don’t reply all?” That is Jack’s problem, not anyone else’s.

Once ‘reply all’ starts it’s contagious thus making one simple email turn in to several.  Who has time for that? Aren’t we all aspiring to “Inbox Zero?”

Here’s another ‘reply all’ scenario.  If you are putting 50 email addresses in the T0: or the CC: area you are doing it wrong! And guess what this leads to? Someone replying all accidentally to all 50 people in your email. Disaster.  This is a nightmare situation for the 43 people who didn’t care one lick about the original email to begin with.

Reply all is a very delicate tool, one that must not be taken lightly.  Today we feel empowered to email anyone, anytime and that has lead to poor email etiquette in my opinion.  I myself am trying to pick up the phone more or talk face to face with people because I believe (much like the handwritten note) people appreciate human contact more than another email in their inbox.

The next time you get the urge to reply all…stop and either just hit reply or pick up the phone and say “hello.”

Here’s a great article about how to mute reply all emails.