Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Writing Wednesday: Reply all

I'm keeping things brief again today (I'm absolutely exhausted, and the week isn't even half over yet), but I wanted to quickly share my thoughts about the "reply all" function in email.

At our company, there are people who use the reply all button constantly as a way to show support for co-workers — which means that "Congratulations on your new baby!" or "Way to go, Jeff!" emails come flooding in after someone announces good news. And of course there are the people who respond to all on mass texts (particularly annoying when you get a bunch of texts from people you don't know).

I'm sure we've all been annoyed by those people who hit reply all without thinking and tell the whole company that they won't be able to attend an upcoming event — and those people are always going to push reply all and disrupt your day. But here are a few ways you can discourage people from clicking the dreaded button next time:

  • Don't include a big group of people on an email or text you don't want shared. This sounds obvious, but it's worth a reminder: Sending sensitive information or personal details to a big group of people is just asking for trouble. One of them is bound to reply all and annoy everyone else in your contact list. For brevity's sake, just send the email to a few people at a time, if you can.
  • Use the BCC field to prevent people from replying to all. BCC is my best friend when I'm sending corporate emails out to the entire company or to a certain team or division, because it hides the recipients and makes it impossible for people to respond to everyone who received the email. If it's possible, use this anytime you don't want people to reply all to a message.
  • Make it clear in the message that people should reply to you directly. Sometimes all it takes is a reminder in the email that you want people to respond to you personally and not copy everyone else in the email, though they may have been copied as an FYI. If you notice someone who frequently replies all, mention tactfully to them that replying only to you is more efficient and that it doesn't distract other people with extra emails.

Does the reply all button get to you? What suggestions do you have for getting people to leave that function alone, especially at work?


  1. It is rare that reply all is necessary. Why don't people get that?

    1. I know. It's not that hard -- just don't push that "replay all" button, especially at work.

  2. Great advice! And I so agree with you!

  3. Best. Advice. Ever!
    I always reply to just the person who sent me the email. It is SO annoying to get 300 emails of "congrats". Ugh!


Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts! I love reading them.