Replying to all doesn’t prove you’re working

The IM Bat signal went up from a friend: How do I create a rule to stop mass emails?

What she meant was: How do I stop this “reply all” conversation loop that I don’t want. We’ve all been there; some desperate or pissed off individual fires off an email about some problem or another to several distribution groups hoping that somehow mass distribution will solve their problem.

Of course, this clicks off something in the brain of normally intelligent people to respond to all with banal responses such as:

  • Not sure why I’m receiving this
  • You must mean the other Rob Johnson
  • Please stop responding reply to all
  • I don’t work in IT
  • Please disregard my previous email
  • Please don’t reply all
  • You realize replying to all is clogging our in-boxes
  • For the love of all that is good, please stop replying to all

What is it that makes supposedly intelligent people do this? I don’t mean the original email; I mean that’s just wrong on its face. Don’t blast email entire distribution groups because you’re not getting the service you expect. That usually just makes people mad and less motivated to help, especially if the problem is user error.

I mean how is it that after 30 something years, people still don’t realize that replying to all on one of these emails is the office version of spam? It makes me sad to think that these people might actually be leading technical projects. If you can’t figure out that replying to all will create a mess, then you shouldn’t be leading anything.

The first few replies are always funny, until you realize you have to remember how to stop the madness. By the way, select one of the messages and then choose “Ignore” from the Delete actions in the Outlook ribbon. It moves them all to Deleted Items folder where I can now see that at least 50 people and counting don’t know enough to stop replying to all.

Are we so conditioned to answer anything in our Inbox that even if we know the message isn’t meant for us, we feel compelled to respond? Responding doesn’t mean you’re doing your job, you don’t get a gold star for telling everyone in the thread: Not sure I’m supposed to get this. You’re not supposed to get this; you’re not supposed to respond to this. Mind your own business and please, stop replying to all.


About John Buonora

Social Learning Manager and Strategist working on career number three. An Old School guy with Millennial skills and a lover of my family, sports and food.
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