Help me out here, I think I may be missing something. When I send an e-mail asking Steve a question and I cc Bob and Jane, it’s because Bob and Jane need to know the answer as well. So, when Steve replies just to me, I have to forward the answer to Bob and Jane. Then Jane will reply, just to me, and I have to forward to Steve and Bob.

I understand that some people cc the entire world on every e-mail, but I don’t. If someone’s name is on there, they need to know the information. Am I the only person who does this?

Yesterday, I spent all day playing messenger girl between Steve and Jane. Technically, I didn’t need to be in the conversation–I just needed to know the consensus at the end. But neither one would e-mail the other. Just me.

Someone explain this to me. Oh, and I believe this little bit of information makes a difference: Steve, Bob and Jane are all lawyers.

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8 thoughts on “Reply to All

  1. What’s worse: not using “Reply All” or always using “Reply All”?

    There are times when an announcement goes out at my office with a after-thought little note about a bug that needs to be fixed by two or three people. Then those two or three people use “Reply All” to discuss and/or defend themselves. I stop reading the messages, hoping that they don’t ask me a question.

    I believe the solution for all these problems is for people to think.

  2. I believe you have something with the final fact that the three are all lawyers. Lawyers are trained to be competitive and combative, especially in one-on-one situations. As a rule they are not trained to cooperate.

  3. Misuse of both reply functions drives me nuts. I hate, hate, hate getting dozens of “me too” copies on things where Reply would have worked as well. On the other hand, apparently the teachers at my kids’ school have been taught to never use ReplyAll — I write an e-mail to a teacher, copying my ex and the teacher invariably does a single Reply to me, with the consequent need to forward.

    Another thing driving me bonkers: Our work e-mail system (Lotus Notes) has a “Reply without attachments” function, but nobody seems to like to use that. There’s nothing like getting a 3MB document in an e-mail, then getting multiple copies of it as everyone replies. Then someone invariably adds a revised copy of the document to a response and suddenly, it’s a 6MB e-mail. I work from home, on a broadband connection, so refreshing my e-mail can take a long time!

  4. Oh no, the lawyer bit is irrelevant. Engineers do this to me all the time. As do general managers. And trainers. And occasionally my friends too (a computer programmer, two marketing executives, a pharmacist, and a HR manager).
    It drives me round the bend.

  5. You might want to take the consensus with a grain of salt as it is obvious they weren’t paying attention. The scary part is they didn’t figure out the need to include all participants after the first round. I suspect their IT guy set the default to Reply Sender and they have no idea how to do differently. But you’d think they would at least take a second to see who might need to be included.

    It seems your lawyers weren’t really giving much thought to who needed to be involved. On the upside, you had a perfect opportunity to guide them to your desired conclusion.

    When I send, I try to include those needing my information. When I reply, I edit the recipients to remove those who really don’t need to know to latest inane detail but keep those that need to be involved. Such as removing the bosses when a wide broadcast project or policy status email breeds petty arguments over minor details. You can always bring them back in if they need to be involved.

  6. I think it’s as simple as people not hitting the “Reply All” button. But at times, they prefer to response to a neutral party and have THAT person forward the responses as he or she sees fit. In other words, YOU get to decide who should know what. How fun for you.

  7. How was the email addressed? Sometimes people CC others so they know you have asked the question you asked, but they do not need to receive the replies. Other times, the point is to keep all involved in all aspects of the discussion. If all you use as a greeting is the “TO:” line of the email, you have not effectively communicated your reasons for CCing the others. You’re leaving it up to the recipient to read your mind of what you meant. Did you mean to broadcast the question to everyone, but receive individual responses from them, or does everyone need to be kept “in the loop” on all the responses?

    The way to make this clear is to state outright who you have copied on the message and why. “Steve, I have copied Bob and Jane on this message to you because they need this information as well. Please include them in any replies on this matter.” Or, “Steve, I have copied Bob and Jane on this so we are all clear that I will be the person in direct contact with you. I will ensure that any pertinent information they need on this project is relayed to them.” Or, you may address your email, “Steve, Bob and Jane, I have this question; do any of you know the answer to it? If so, let me know and please copy the others so they know the matter has been addressed.”

    This is especially important when one is in a law office or other situation where they are accustomed to dealing with confidential matters. Without further instruction, the prudent way to handle the matter is to respond only to the person sending the email and leave it to them to determine if any of the others copied need to be privy to the response.

  8. Anonymous–

    The funny thing is, that originally Steve told me that Bob and Jane needed to make the determination. Why he e-mailed me instead of Bob and Jane directly is a mystery.

    Of course, Steve is constantly sending me e-mails that begin, “remember that document I e-mailed you last week? I can’t find my copy. Can you send it back?”

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