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In defense of Reply All

Sep

14

2010

In defense of Reply All

A recent blog post by Mike Figliuolo called Email Stupidity: Reply All Cuts Both Ways advocated that the Reply All button should be eliminated from email applications. His concerns were around inappropriate use – like using Reply All to share criticism. The only reason he could conceive of using it was for sharing praise.

We vote “yes” for sharing praise. Here are some other situations where Reply All is useful:

Corrections. Occasionally there are mistakes in emails, so rather than let miscommunication fester into something worse, send a Reply All response to clarify the facts. Don’t point fingers, and do share only the essentials necessary to clarify the situation.

Share learning. If you have insight into a best practice or have a great idea that would help others, use Reply All and share it. Not everyone will apply it, but it may make life easier for those who do.

Align on performance goals. You want to improve. You have created a plan and need others’ mentorship, support or guidance. Reply All helps keep people in the loop about your progress and how they can assist you in moving forward.

Give and get input. You have a question that would benefit from the team’s input. Rather than waiting until the team meeting, send out an email and ask people to Reply All so that the team can share their thoughts.

True enough, Reply All can be a pain if it’s overused, or if the emails are too long. (Brevity is always best with email, but too often that wisdom is ignored.) As Elbert Hubbard said, All noise is waste. Using Reply All selectively should not contribute to the noise, but lessen it.

Have a question or want some input from Humanergy about this topic? Contact us and we’ll get right back to you!

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Comments (1)

  1. Thanks for the carry. One point to clarify – I can *conceive* of many reasons to use reply all. I only *shared* one in the post. Big difference. Good points on other proper uses. The problem is so many folks in corporate environments have gotten so lazy that even the best-intentioned usage gets abused. I have yet to find an organization that *consistently* uses the button appropriately.

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