Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To Reply To All or Not?

Being connected to the Internet and having the capability of sending emails as often as we can are such normal things to do these days. However, it surprises me that many people are still unaware of the proper email etiquettes – especially when to use ‘Reply All’ and the BCC, CC fields.

A certain IT company sent an email to more than 800 employees requesting for RSVP to their upcoming Christmas party last December. Such action was required for attendees to be included in their raffle, where several expensive, huge prizes were at stake.

Naturally, almost everyone wanted to join. In desperate mode after not being able to find the voting buttons, several employees hit the ‘Reply All’ and questioned all 800 employees on how they can send a response.

One email led to more emails. Somebody replied to everyone to say not to reply to all. Another person then emailed ‘Like!’ as a response to the previous email. It did not stop there! Several more people still sent their inquiries to everyone. What the heck?!

In this scenario, both the sender and the respondents were wrong. The sender should have used BCC, so that recipients won’t be able to bug everyone. They should learn the right way of using the email fields and features.

When to use Reply All?
It is necessary to use Reply All if your response will create value for the original sender and all (or the majority) of the other people copied in the email. This is the sole purpose of this feature – to keep everyone informed.

When NOT to use Reply All?
Assess your response and see if it is needed to be read by everyone in the thread. Sending replies such as ‘Thank You’ and ‘Noted’ should only be sent to the Sender.

At times, you would receive emails where your name is not in either the TO: or CC: fields. You should know that the email was sent to you with your name BCCed, because the sender did not want to let other recipients know that you were also being sent a copy. Doing a Reply All would immediately defeat the purpose of the sender.

When only a few people need to see your thoughts, simply just use Reply and add only other recipients who need to receive the message.

And when you want to comment or embarrass, scold or correct the sender, it is absolutely necessary for you to just use the Reply rather than a Reply All. Otherwise, you could easily send negative vibes and start a nasty chain of emails.

Remember to watch your words on each email you send. Know the right way to respond or else you’d be like the Recruitment Executive Gary Chaplin who lost his post after mistakenly sending a nasty email to 4,000 recipients as a reply to a job seeker he didn’t like.

This article is my 50th contribution to Manila Bulletin -- one of the Philippines' leading broadsheets -- published on December 19, 2011 (Monday) in the TechNews Section. You can view the PDF version here (lower left portion).

Photo Credit: It'sNGenius


Wow, I can't believe there are still some people who do not know the meaning of "Reply All". 

Maybe it should be taught in school? :)

That exchange of e-mails last December was really annoying. Those who replied to all shouldn't have been included in the raffle! :D

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