Emails are often sent out to large lists of recipients to announce information. Unnecessary Reply-Alls to the same emails can be both annoying and expensive for organizations as recipients waste valuable time reading and responding to useless emails.
Here’s a quick checklist of when you should and should not do a Reply All. You may also want to share this post with colleagues who are annoying you with unnecessary reply-alls to group emails.
Here’s the list.
Do NOT use Reply-All to acknowledge receipt or say Thank You
Not everyone on the list needs to know that you specifically have received the email.
And unless the sender has specifically asked for acknowledgement, you probably don’t need to say Received or Thank You. Chances are that if the original email out to many people, the sender doesn’t want his or her Inbox filled with hundreds of Thank Yous.
In the rare case where an acknowledgement is appropriate, please click Reply instead of Reply-All. This way only the original sender is notified.
DO a Reply-All if the email is a discussion or if you are adding information that applies to all recipients
If the email is a discussion, then it makes sense to do a Reply All. However even if it is a discussion, you should only do a Reply All if your information adds additional information. Don’t just reply with an “agreed”.
The rare case where a short Agreed or Yes or No is appropriate where you need to let everyone (and not just the original sender) know your opinion.
Do NOT berate anyone or complain about others in a group email
That almost never ends well!
Even if you are correct, you have probably caused unnecessary embarrassment to a colleague. Your comments could easily become watercooler gossip and affect your long-term relationship with the affected person.
If you absolutely need to berate anyone then either send them an email personally (which I still do not recommend because emails can make what you mean sound much worse) or pick up the phone or (best of all) do it in person.
Similar rules also apply if you need to complain about someone else’s behaviour. In most cases, a one-to-one email to the appropriate person, a phone call or an in-person meeting works best.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Unfortunately, It is too easy to accidentally do a Reply-All when you didn’t mean to… the Reply and Reply-All buttons are right next to each other. If Reply-All is a problem for you or your organization, you may want to look at some additional protection such as ReplyGuard for Outlook.
Reply-Guard installs inside Outlook is already used by thousands of users in companies of all size around the world. It also has additional features for control and deployment in large organizations.