Email Tip: When to Reply All
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Email Tip: When to Reply All

Reply AllTo Reply or Reply All:  That is the Question

By Michael Berry, Director of Information Security/CISO, Corporate Integrity and Ethics, Kettering Health Network

Have you ever wondered why you have received an email from a person you don’t normally do business with and the body simply says “Congrats,” “Good Job,” or “Thank you”? Reply All is most likely the culprit. Here is when it is appropriate to use Reply All and tips for senders for when sending an email to a large group.

Should I Reply All? If your response will cause other people included in the email thread to do something differently than yes, Reply All. If your response will have no effect on other people or is only “good job” or “congratulations” then no, don’t Reply All. You can send an email to the individual who sent the email for those types of notes.

Tip for Recipients: Before you hit Reply All, stop and take a moment. Ask yourself, “Does everyone need to read this?” You’ll be surprised how often the answer is no. If there is any doubt, always err on the side of a simple Reply.

Tip for Senders: If you do not want recipients to use Reply All, then put the distribution list or group of recipients in the Blind Carbon Copy field. You can then post within the body of the email the intended target group so everyone will be aware who has received the message.

Reply All Email Signature Suggestion

When Should You Use Reply All
: There is a work-related email thread with a discussion and question posed to the group. Do you Reply All?

Yes. As long as everyone in the thread will benefit from reading the response, then this is an appropriate use. If there are more than a few Reply All responses back and forth, you might consider having a conference call or a face to face meeting to make better use of the time and avoid potential confusion.

Scenario: A colleague receives a promotion and a notice is sent to the entire department. Do you Reply All?

No. There is no reason for everyone else in your department to read your response to the individual. If you would like to offer a congratulatory statement, use Reply instead.

Scenario: You are on an email thread that no longer applies to 70 percent of the individuals. Do you Reply All?

No. Be considerate of others time and remove all uninvolved recipients from the list.

Scenario: You receive an email containing a rhetorical question or a statement to which the only response can be “Ok” or “Thanks.” Do you Reply All?

No. Your silence is your acknowledgement in this example. There is no response needed unless there is a clarification needed.

Email can be incredibly distracting and quickly become one of the most productivity losses in your work day. Continually working in email throughout the day, diminishes your amount of focus on a single item. By using the above tips and examples, we can all help each other reduce just a few more items in our inboxes daily.

December 12, 2014