Do We All Really Need to Know You Said Thank You?

Why You Should Stop Driving Your Coworkers Crazy by Using “Reply All” 

If I could go back in time, there are many things I would be tempted to change about the world but possibly the most controversial is this one: I would make an extra effort to stop whoever invented the “reply all” for email.

Seriously, there are few things as annoying as indiscriminate use of the “reply all” function.

You go to your email and someone sends out what appears to be a relatively harmless email, but somehow it triggers a cascade of time wasting soul-sucking emails in your box. Why? “Reply all”.

“Congratulations to John Doe on his promotion” an email might read. Then, inexplicably, twenty people “reply all” to add their congratulations. What is the point of this? Can’t you just email your congratulations directly to John Doe? Does everyone really need to know that you said congratulations?

You receive an email with some mundane update like “The window cleaners are coming this weekend” or “There’s leftover pizza in the break room” and invariably some people will “reply all” with such important additions as “thanks” or “yum”.

I’ve often pondered the over-use of “reply all”. Is it accidental? Is it people wanting to make sure their coworkers know they responded? Do people think it’s funny?

Why? Why are you using the “reply all”?

Most of us who work in an office get a lot of emails. I average around a hundred emails a day. Indiscriminate use of “reply all” just adds to our collective overwhelm at work, especially now that we are mostly working remotely.

Unnecessary emails create a lot of stress and extra work for all of us.

When I finish a meeting and see 23 new emails have come into my box, it makes me want to burst into tears and throw my computer into a dumpster. When I realize ten of those emails were people reiterating “congrats” or “thanks” I feel a bit betrayed, like I got stressed out for nothing.

I also get annoyed, because I’ve got to open the emails up, read them to see that they are nothing important, and then delete them. That’s precious time I’m wasting.

I’m happy for my promoted coworkers and I’m glad to send them a personalized congratulations. And leftover treats in the break room make me as happy as everyone else in the office. But I don’t need to blow up my coworkers’ emails to express the joy of extra donuts.

And neither do you.

My fondest wish is that every email system would have a little pop-up box that says, “You’re about to reply to everyone on this email chain. Is it necessary? Is it appropriate? Check yes or no.”

Please outlook, google and all those other email systems, program in a “reply all” challenge questions.

Can someone invent that next? Every office drone in America will thank you.

Republished from The Haven magazine on Medium.  Follow me on Medium at https://medium.com/@RoseBak.

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