Have you ever stopped and counted how many emails you get in a day?  It’s hard to count because we are often checking when we wake up, checking while we’re drinking our coffee, checking when we get to our office, checking when we’re waiting around for others, checking when we’re, well, you get the point.   No matter how often we check, they just keep coming.  Some emails are necessary, and some we try and weed out as junk mail, but there’s one kind of email that just drives me crazy.  I’m referring to the scourge of all humanity, the biggest waste of time and productivity on the email landscape… the dreaded Reply All button.

Last week I was copied in on a rather simple email that went out to about a dozen people.  The email was simply confirming a meeting place for an upcoming gathering.  The moment I saw it, I shuddered and thought to myself: “I hope these people know how to respond to this request.”  They didn’t.155 Reply All

The first email came rather quickly.  “I’ll be there!”  That one didn’t bother me all that much, but I did stop what I was doing when I heard the email bing announcing its arrival.  It was the next twenty-two that arrived during the day that made me crazy.  Not one of the twenty-two emails required any action of the group, or provided any new insights except for one: “By the way, I just moved my office down the hallway.”  Of course, I didn’t know the individual, let alone the office she was referring to, but I suppose it counted as something new.

I’m going to say this as calmly as possible; think before you hit that Reply All button!  A part of me would like to remove this option altogether, but there are those few rare times when it is actually needed.  So, (other than me whining about it,) what’s the solution?

  1. If you are the sender, and you don’t want everyone replying to everyone, consider putting the email addresses in the Blind Copy, (Bcc,) panel.  Reply All will be useless to anyone who dares to hit it.
  2. If you are the sender, remind recipients of their options. My friend Jesse knows how to do this.  Recently she sent out a request for information to group of people on a committee and wrote in her email: “No need to reply all, just send a note directly to me.”  Bless you!
  3. If you are the recipient, take one extra second, and seriously consider if your all-important, “Thanks Betty; I’ll be sure to bring Larry with me!” needs to be sent to everyone else on that list.

In the end, it becomes a matter of courtesy.  I’m a person who tries to make good use of my time and energy, but I’m no match for that email bing that goes off announcing yet another email.  It’s hard enough dodging the onslaught of junk mail that pours in daily.  If you’re sending something out to a group, consider some of the suggestions I’ve listed.  If you’re a recipient, and your fingers are hovering over that Reply All option, take a moment before sharing your reply.  Imagine what a wonderful world this would be if we all just slowed down a bit, and we were a little more considerate in how we share information with others.

(F.Y.I. – On June 25th and 26th I will be conducting one and two-day “Influence Without Manipulation” workshops in Washington, D.C.  If you, or someone you know would like to attend, see Jolles Academy for more information.)

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