Email Etiquette and Reply-to-Alls

By: standss , Mar 23rd, 2015

The Reply-to-All button in Outlook can be both dangerous and an enormous time-waster, particularly in larger organizations. In this post we look at when it is OK to Reply All and how you can configure Outlook so that you (and others) make the correct choice between Reply and Reply-to-All.

What is the problem with Reply-All?

  1. Productivity: It wastes time and important network bandwidth.

Have you ever been part of an email chain in where people start doing Reply-Alls and saying things like “Noted”, “Received” or “Thanks”?

Now imagine this in a big organization where hundreds of users are wasting valuable time looking at those emails.

  1. Confidentiality

Sometimes you want to email only the Sender of the email with your thoughts and extra information. Clicking Reply-All can accidentally put everyone in the loop and can lead to embarrassing and possibly expensive mistakes.

When should you use Reply All?

This article from the Huffington Post on Email Etiquette has some scenarios that provide guidance on deciding.

The answer to this is common sense.

Use Reply All only when all recipients NEED to be kept informed. Otherwise just Reply to the people who actually need to be emailed.

The other way to decide is to look at the original email to see if it meant to be a conversation or discussion.  If the answer is YES, and you are adding something of value then a Reply-All is appropriate.

When should you NOT use Reply All?

  1. For a personal comment or conversation with one of the recipients, particularly if you are bad-mouthing one of the other recipients.
  2. When you want to acknowledge to the original sender that you have received the email with a short.

Is it possible to reduce Reply-Alls in your organization?

Out of the box, Outlook requires users to exercise restraint. Unfortunately this rarely happens. It is too easy to click Reply-All.

We created Reply-Guard for Outlook to assist with this. Reply Guard is a component of our Send Guard for Outlook product that is already used by thousands of companies around the world.

Reply Guard does more than just warn users. It immediately makes it obvious to users exactly who will be receiving the email.

You can find out more about Reply Guard in the next blog post.

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