One of the joys of email is the ability to send a single message to multiple people at the same time. I mean, it’s not like the “reply all” button invented itself. It’s often useful. Often… but not always.
So the supposedly simple question is: When do you hit ‘Reply All’ and when do you not?
Reply all when:
- You’ve looked to see who received the original message.
- Every single person who received the original message cares about your response.
- Your response is relevant to the topic being discussed. This isn’t the time to say, “yeah and…” while introducing a new topic to the discussion.
- You have proofread your response for spelling, grammar and tone. This may be the first time you’ve communicated with some of these people, and first impressions count.
Don’t reply to everyone if:
- Your response applies only to the sender, or a small part of the group.
- You don’t need to reply at all. Save everyone the trouble of cleaning out their inbox.
- The message contains information that might be sensitive.
- You can’t be sure your tone won’t be misinterpreted. Just because your buddy knows when you’re being sarcastic or ironic, doesn’t mean everyone else will.
- You don’t know who else has been brought into the conversation.
That seems like a lot of thinking to do, but the fact is, it takes less than 10 seconds to know the answers to those questions, and a lot more time than that to apologize, explain, or beg to keep your job.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.