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Reply to All and the Infamous Consequences

April 20, 2017 // R. Shawn McBride

Email is everywhere. We all use it. It’s a necessary part of life. It’s become the primary means of business communication for almost all of us. Surpassing the telephone and certainly surpassing the written letter.

Emails can be sent very quickly. They can be sent everywhere. We often end up with chains of email with lots of people involved. There’s a temptation always to hit reply to all but the consequences being tremendous.

I think we’ve all been reminded to be selective about when to hit reply and when to hit reply to all. But I think it’s good to have a reminder. When you hit reply to all you’re cluttering a lot of email boxes which can cause frustration to others.

You’re also bringing your conversation in front of many people, and there are times that this is beneficial. Like, if you’re a team working on a project, replying to all may be perfect because you want to keep everybody up to date with any updates. But you want to keep the details light in reply to all email. If you’ve got fine details to workout it could go either way and be a better time for a one person to one person e-mail.

Sometimes its best to get out of e-mail.  Maybe even pick up the phone to get in touch with that person that you need to talk to, rather than talk to the entire community. Once you’ve called and got an answer, then you can communicate it to the community.

You also want to be civil generally when replying to all. Reply to all is not a place to air your grievances. If you have a grievance with a person, the reply button is generally the better option. Even better than e-mailing, talk directly to that person. Figure out what’s bothering each of you and work through it, rather than expose your argument or disagreement to the entire community.

Of course, there’s a problem with people that accidentally hit reply to all which is a different story that we will visit at a different time.

What’s been your experience, have you had trouble with a reply to all? Have you gotten yourself into situations you didn’t intend or have you seen others make a fool of themselves with a reply to all? Join us in the comments below and let us know what your experience has been.


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This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. Each case is unique.  Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. Freeimages.com/photographer Salman Rana.


About the Author

R. Shawn McBride is the Chief Innovation Officer at McBride For Business, LLC. His signature keynote, The 3 Laws of Empowerment (www.rshawnmcbridelive.com/3laws), gives audiences an entertaining look at how they can prepare, plan and protect themselves. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at info@mcbrideforbusiness.com or (214) 418-0258.


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