Email Etiquette: Using Reply All

“Clicking Reply All emails everyone in the chain. It’s rather noisy! 

Are you sure you want to send this?”

Are you sure you want to send this? A question everyone should ask themselves before they respond to an email involving anyone other than your mom. AKA the one person who actually wants to know everything and anything about what goes on. Other than that, play the game and be strategic about using “Reply All.” 

Although email is the grandparent of modern communication, it is a vital form of relaying information in any workplace. It is important you are respecting people’s time and their email space by properly using reply all. This article will help you master the email landscape and tell you exactly when it is and isn’t appropriate to broadcast your thoughts, no matter what role of the email chain you play.

When You Should Reply All

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When You’re Told to Reply All

When a sender specifically states, “reply all to this email,” it’s safe to say you should reply all to that email. Without fear or worry, you can be confident you are doing the right thing. 

To End the Email Chain 

Sometimes replying all is important to ending an email chain for everyone. If someone is seeking out an answer and sends out a company wide email asking for it, it is important you reply all here and say, “I’ve got it and will it send to you.” This stops all other recipients from replying meaningless and unproductive replies. 

Your Voice Adds Value

You might think your voice always needs to be heard, but in reality it probably doesn’t. It is important to be critical towards yourself and make sure your reply all action actually provides value to the conversation and increases productivity. If you don’t have a clear picture on how your comment would add value, consider skipping the response.

Cut the Email List Down

Sometimes the conversation leads you to only needing to reply to some of the recipients, not all of them. In this case, replying all will gather all the email addresses and then you can delete the unwanted recipients who no longer need to be a part of the conversation.

There Are Other Members on CC

If you are emailed and other team members are included on CC, rule of thumb: always keep those team members copied (AKA always use “Reply All”). They were copied for a reason, so they likely need to know about your response, too – not just the sender.

When You Shouldn’t Reply All

stop sign

Clarifying a Question 

If you have a clarification question about the email you received that needs an answer before you can move forward, you can reply to just the sender.. 

When You’re Correcting Someone

There is no need to correct someone in front of all the other recipients unless it is pertinent information – the project is due at 10:00 a.m., not at 1:00 p.m.

To Vent or Comment

Resist the urge to provide meaningless comments or to vent about the subject. Save this for your internal communication platform or your next water cooler talk. 

Sharing Small Bits of Information

Mass emails can create an enormous web of responses. Whether it’s welcoming someone to the team, sharing nit-picky thoughts on a project, or sending birthday wishes, it is important to not be the person who adds to the clutter. If a company-wide email is sent out about an upcoming event, the whole company doesn’t need to know that you can’t make it.

Defining Your Role

Let’s face it, are you really that important? Be strategic about placing who needs to be on an email. If you are confused on your importance, email the sender directly for clarification. Or simply ignore the emails by muting the thread.