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May 21, 2013

The Jury’s In - Put an End to Email “Reply-All”

It’s no secret; reply-all is one of the most infamous and often detested e-mail developments to come out of the computer age.  It has triggered embarrassment, confusion, annoyance, and now for one company, a lawsuit. 

When I read this story I couldn’t help but think, are we not learning anything?  Reply all’s day in court is long overdue. Especially since its trail of infamy has been inked (or typed) across headlines for years. 

In this latest story, an HR Director at a Canadian healthcare company accidently hit reply-all on an email to the company’s legal team outlining the pending – yet unannounced – termination of an employee.  To the Director’s chagrin – and the employee’s likely distress – she realized the soon-to-be ousted employee was actually included on that distribution list! 

That employee is now suing for wrongful dismissal. 

Beyond embarrassment or frustration (or legal fees) – reply-all clogs up in-boxes, can waste time and can obviously lead to unanticipated consequences. (Remember the NYU student who replied all to his fellow 40,000 classmates, when really, the email was intended for his mom?)

It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing - so seemingly innocuous, yet can really have a negative impact on how we work and communicate.   Enough is enough. Let’s learn from others’ all too frequent mistakes and let’s put an end to reply all

What tough lessons have you learned from others (or yourself!) about email reply-all and how do manage it now?

- David Grossman 

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email research, email etiquette, email misbehaviors, workplace email

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