When I first entered the business world, as opposed to when I was a teacher in the late 80s and no one had computers, I learned that there was a very dangerous setting in the email system. It's "reply all".
This particular setting can be dangerous for many reasons, but the two most important ones, in my opinion, are:
- saying the wrong words to the wrong person
- saying the wrong words to someone who doesn't care one iota what you're saying, yet has to wade through your responses
Some people have their DEFAULT email settings on "reply all". I do not understand this. It is much more likely that what you need to say to respond to an email applies to one or maybe two people, than to the entire group the email was sent to. It's much better to have it set to just reply to the person, THEN you can deliberately add others that you've specifically chosen to also hear what you have to say.
Using this pre-caution can save you a lot of embarrassment, and potential for putting your foot so far into your mouth that there is no extracting it. I can think of many instances of corporate communication when the conversation veered off into complaining about a certain employees lazy habits, and yet there she was, still in the email chain, probably feeling each stab of the knife in her back as the emails rolled in, her name not taken off.
I'm not saying that those words didn't need to be said. Perhaps some disciplinary action was in order, but that should have been discussed through other channels of HR, and not in gossipy email between co-workers.
The other instance of mis-use of the reply-all button has to do with personal correspondence. I've been the on the receiving end of too many of the following type incident.
Let's say someone is having a baby, and a list has been provided to a friend to "alert everyone" once the blessed event has happened. Great! Glad to be informed. Happy for the new parents. What I don't need though is my phone beeping for the next three hours when everyone on that distribution list chimes in with their congratulations!
Random numbers that aren't part of my contacts keep popping up with, "That's awesome! I bet he looks just like his dad! Tell them all...." For hours. It's wonderful that you want to congratulate and communicate. Just would you please do it with just the person who sent you the text or email or whatever form of communication it was? I have no idea who you are. I don't really need 27 of basically the same thing over and over again.
I know they mean well. I know it's hard to teach some people to just hit "reply", or to start a new text to just the one person. I'd appreciate it though, and I know others would, too. We've discussed it. At length.
Besides, wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry? Wouldn't you be mortified if you said the wrong this to the wrong person? Wouldn't you prefer not to wake someone up all night long with congratulations texts? I think you would.
So confession time. How many of you have been burned by hearing the wrong thing about yourself, or saying the wrong thing to the wrong person? How many extraneous group reply texts have you gotten?
Or should this have gone on Wednesdays rant about the little things that bother depressed people when they can't face the real world?
~Tina, inquiring minds want to know
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