Biggest Email Mistake - Reply All
Email has been a wonderful technology for both personal and professional use. The use of email at work has enabled employees the ability to communicate instantaneously. Of course, you probably already know this, but do you know that a lot of employees make quite an unprofessional mistake with email on a fairly regular basis? It’s called the Reply All button.
What is Reply All?
When you reply all to an email, you don’t only reply to the one person who sent out the original email message, but also to everyone else that email was sent to. This is very useful when more than one person needs to receive all of the information. However, it can be a problem when the original message was sent out to a large group of people.
The Reply All Mistake
While this option can be useful, it can also be a real pain in the butt. When someone sends out an announcement-type email to everyone in your company, your email box can fill up quickly if people reply all to that email.
For example, I work at a college where all of the employees in the district (four schools, plus the district office, and multiple satellite locations) have the ability to send out a mass email to every employee. These emails generally serve as announcements for events happening at one of the campuses, but some employees feel the need to use these announcements as an excuse to start a district wide email conversation.
This happens fairly frequently, but one amusing incident happened last December as we were gearing up for the holidays. A member of our culinary department sent out a mass email to everyone encouraging them to order their Christmas cookies from the school early. Sounds good, right?
Well, when I got to work the next morning, I found at least fifteen emails waiting for me—all about the dang Christmas cookies. As the day went on, more and more emails popped into my box. The first email was sent from the original sender, apologizing for using the phrase “Christmas cookies” when she should have used “holiday cookies” so as not to leave anyone out or offended. She explained that she had been given a reminder about this mistake from someone in Human Resources about this. This led to many reply all emails basically saying how ridiculous it is that the woman had to apologize, blah blah blah. Those who don’t celebrate Christmas weren’t offended. Why does the PCness of everything have to ruin the holiday spirit? HR is evil. Yada yada yada.
It isn’t that I didn’t agree with what a lot of people were saying, but I use my email for work. I rely on my email for work. So, it is difficult to weed through the Christmas/Holiday cookies emails to find relevant emails.
Then came the barrage of emails from people asking that everyone stop pushing the reply all button. Then, more people responded, saying they can push reply all if they want, and who do you think you are telling us what we can and cannot do with our email?
Do you see where I’m going with this? The reply all button, when improperly used, can lead to an avalanche of insanity.
Just chalk this up to one more case of technology gone bad. By the way, the next time you push that reply all button, make sure it is the right thing to do.