The Only Reason to Use “Reply All”

Reply All for EmergenciesI’m ready to start a campaign to either promote the professional use of the Reply All email response or ban the option altogether. Which do you prefer?

Everyone I know complains about the amount of time they spend reading, sorting and writing emails at work. One of the biggest time-wasting culprits is the multiple Reply All email responses. Here are some of the most common offenses:

  • Group Thanks: Out of politeness, people use Reply All to offer thanks to everyone on the email group list. The impact of your gratitude is lost when everyone gets the same message.
  • Remove Me: Out of frustration, others use Reply All to request removal from an email group. The whole group doesn’t need to know you want out. Let the sender know directly.
  • Look at Me: Out of a quest for attention, some use Reply All to show off in front of the group. Stop trying to prove you’re better than everyone else. They’ve already formed their opinions of you.

The only appropriate use of Reply All is when you are sure that your reply is essential information for everyone on the recipient list. If you must, keep the message exceptionally brief.

Consider Email Effectiveness over Efficiency
The next time you write an email message to a long list of addresses, ask yourself: is this an efficient or effective method of sharing this information?

  • Efficient: It’s easy to write one email and send it to a long list of email addresses, without considering the needs of individual readers. But will every recipient actually read it?
  • Effective: Challenge yourself to write tailored emails to smaller groups or key individuals. Your coworkers will appreciate the custom message that pertains specifically to them.

On behalf of everyone you work with, please avoid using Reply All as much as possible. It’s more hassle than it’s worth. Thank you.


Image Credit: Reply All Memo by Jason Franzen, creator of Memo Randoms. Check out his stuff. 


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