(Hint: Almost Never!)
You receive an email in your inbox. It is from your boss and it says, “Happy New Year, Team!” Ding. A colleague of yours replies all, “I hope everyone has a great year!” Ding. Another reply all. “Cheers to a fantastic new year!” Ding. “Looking forward to a successful year!” Ding. . . Ding. . . Ding. <Sigh>
Although well intentioned, your inbox is now overflowing and critical messages are buried under a barrage of Reply All mail.
Strong internal company communication thrives on efficiency.
Reply versus Reply All
A Reply is when your email goes to a single person — either the person who sent the original email or the person who sent the last message in the thread you are responding to.
Reply All is when you respond to everyone on the thread. Other recipients will see a message you Reply All to, whether they’re in the “To” or “Cc” fields.
Why do people Reply All?
When I asked people why they selected Reply All, here are some responses I received:
“I used Reply All because the person I received the email from did.”
“After so many people Replied All, I wanted to scream to anyone who would listen: STOP! . . . so I replied all.” Oh, the irony.
More often than not, hitting Reply All wastes everyone’s time.
When you do not need to Reply All
- Do not Reply All thanking the sender for the message. Reply only to the sender.
- No need to Reply All in response to birthday greetings or congratulatory messages for one person. If you want to send your good wishes, do so by emailing just the person being congratulated or celebrated.
- Do not Reply All if you have a conflict with a date or time for a meeting. If you have a conflict, send an email to the sender or scheduler.
- Do not Reply All when disagreeing or correcting someone. If needed, talk to that person directly.
- Do not Reply All that you received the email or that you will complete the task requested. If the sender included an action item to be completed, communicate directly with them.
When you could Reply All
- If the sender of the message asked for the group’s feedback
- If you think others on the chain might have the same question you have
LOOK!! Read your DRAFT email before sending. Who am I sending this email to? Do I need to send it to all? (probably NOT)
Rather than selecting Reply All on an email addressed to many, select Forward instead and type in the names of the people you want to communicate with. This action forces you to think: “Does this person need to hear what I’m saying?”
Give yourself a buffer by setting up a two- minute delay on your emails in case you accidentally select Reply All. You can bring it back!
Nine out of 10 times you should not be replying all to a company email.
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