We can’t always control other people’s use of “reply all,” but we can control ourselves (and hopefully be a good influence). Make sure you aren’t using “reply all” in these three situations:
- In response to mass communication – If you see that the email is a generic message being sent to your whole company, a group of conference attendees, etc., there’s no reason for you to include everyone on your response. It’s great that you’re RSVPing to the company picnic, but the whole building doesn’t need to know.
- To point out someone’s mistake – Even if it’s something simple like a missing attachment, please let people maintain their dignity. Send your comment only to the sender – he or she will be appreciative and possibly return the favor some day.
- To send a personal message to one person – One of the most common personal messages is the “thank you” email. If you feel compelled to thank the sender, that’s fine. The whole group, however, doesn’t need the message in their inbox. (Leaders who are using the email to show recognition to a team member are an exception here.)
Every email is an opportunity to be better, and we can all stand to be more conscious of using the “reply all” button – conscious being the key word. Before robotically clicking it, take two seconds to ask yourself if “reply all” is really appropriate. Your coworkers will thank you.