Reply All. I mean everyone. Yes, I said ALL

Reply All emailsRaise your hand if you use email at work? Ok keep those hands up. Now keep your hand up if you’ve ever had to respond to an email at work. Alright now keep your hand up if you know what it means to respond to one individual on a group email. Great! You’re doing well. Ok now keep your hand up if you respond to everyone in a group email when you hit reply. I see. So most people probably have their hands down by this point. Because most of us understand the concept of replying to only one person when we hit reply.

But there are some office workers who simply cannot grasp the concept of replying only to one person. This is the “reply all” co-worker. It’s the person who doesn’t understand that there is a choice when replying to people. They simply either don’t understand that they can select “reply all” or just “reply” to the original sender of the email. There are some reasons why this person doesn’t adhere to what I would call simple email etiquette. One of them being that they are just not tech savvy. I get it. Maybe they don’t know how to use computers or email all that well although I find that a little difficult to believe. Even my mother who still uses a flip phone has figured out how to reply to people. Click here for some accessories for your NOT flip phone. Another rationale behind this behavior could be that they are looking for feedback from everyone on the email thread. It’s pretty unlikely. They might as well just ask in person.

The last reason I can come up with is that they like to create drama. They’re so bored at work that they welcome the certain distraction an unwelcome reply all email is going to provide them for at least a few hours or until the IT department starts blocking the endless thread of nonsense replies. Click for some ways to combat boredom at work. Here’s an example of what a reply all ends up looking like:

Initial email:

Hi everyone wanted to let you know there is an all hands on deck meeting (probably useless) scheduled for 2pm in the conference room. Please be there on time as we would like to get things wrapped up in time. Thank you.

Reply All (multiple respondents):
What conference room is this in?
What time is the meeting?

What is the meeting about?
Is the meeting mandatory?
Will there be snacks provided?
The random accident reply all always bound to happen: “Honey I forgot to ask you to pick up the steak from the grocery store. Could you please stop on your way home?”

Everyone see what’s happening here so far? Six or seven people have already replied all so now your inbox is flooded and it’s only going to get worse from here because here’s what starts to happen:

Reply from original person:

Hello all yes it’s a mandatory meeting. It will be held in the conference room next to the cafeteria. No snacks. Once again it’s at 2pm. Please make sure you do not hit “Reply All” when replying to this email. Please just reply directly to me with any questions.

But look what’s happened in the meantime:

Reply to AllReply All (multiple respondents):
Marie, you just told everyone you’re having steak for dinner lol.  Enjoy!

Someone has a virus and it just infected my computer!!!!! Please stop sending SPAM.
John are you going to this meeting? Sounds lame. These meetings always suck.
Who saw the news today? Traffic already. Think we should leave early.
Everyone STOP hitting reply all!

By this point the original email sender has stepped away because they have nothing more to add to this conversation. But herein lies the problem. Once the reply all’s have started it’s nearly impossible to stop them. People cannot help themselves. Eventually it devolves into anger and the reply all’s start sounding more like this:

Reply All (multiple respondents):
STOP RESPONDING TO EVERYONE. YOU’RE CLOGGING UP MY EMAIL!!! (because someone thinks all CAPS will have some sort of effect on people.  It won’t)

Hey everyone please stop replying to all.  We are all reading these emails!
etc, etc…

Problem is now people are doing it because they think they’re being funny. Actually they’re doing it because it’s annoying and funny. It sort of is. Especially when you’re bored. Which brings me back to one of my original points…someone is getting pure joy out of hearing people swear and mutter under their breath each time they receive another email on this thread. And yeah if you’re trying to annoy your office mates, it totally works.

The only way to stop this is to report it to IT and they will take care of it by killing the thread.  But really…where’s the fun in that???

Now go ahead and tell me about some of your favorite reply all’s. Looking forward to reading about them.

– Becca

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