How To Use Your ‘Reply All’ Button Without Nausea

A mass email can often be an effective tool to communicate news or accomplish tasks but, if not managed correctly, can also quickly turn into a frustrating way to jam your inbox for days. So, how do you know when hitting “Reply All” is appropriate and when it should simply be avoided? Below are some simple guidelines to live by.

Pause & Evaluate. Before hitting “Reply All” think to yourself : “Does everyone on this email need to read my reply?” The answer often will be no. And then, simply reply to the person who you do want to share your comment, reaction, or answer with. This is especially true in a corporate office where hearing everyone’s opinion on the fact that “Half Day Fridays are coming to an end” is really not productive. Opinions, unless solicited, should also often be kept to yourself or for private email correspondences.

Stick To The Topic.  Sometimes after pausing and evaluating, your answer might be, “Yes, I should hit reply all”. This answer will mostly present itself if the mass email in question is asking a particular question such as “Can any of you come in for an emergency marketing meeting this Friday?” In this case, keep your answer brief and concise. Make sure you are actually answering the question being asked and not starting a tangent conversation that is going to distract everyone else from the topic at hand. Answering “Ugh. I hate coming in on Fridays” might simply spark a negative conversation about management which isn’t productive and never ends well. 

The One Word Email. There will be times where you will receive a mass email that is meant to be served as an announcement such as “The Women’s Networking Event Has Been Changed To Next Friday” at that point you should add the new date to your calendar and reply to the host ONLY that you will still be attending. Don’t reply all to say “OK” or “GREAT”. This becomes a waste of most people’s time. In general, try to avoid one word emails as they do not help or advance the conversation.

1 is Mighty Enough. Emails are not meant to be used as an emotional release. If you are upset about information that has been shared then call up a friend and talk to them about it. But, do not start a rant to a group or stranger or co-workers which will reflect negatively on your image. Also, if in doubt, always reply to one instead of all. If the receiver thinks your information is pertinent then they can always forward it to the group. 

Passive Aggressive CC. Lastly, no one likes the person who automatically starts CCing their boss or stranger on an email as leverage to get their way. This is very rude, and though (sometimes) effective, will leave a very bitter taste for all involved. Instead call a quick conference call or meeting to resolve any issues or concerns.

Know of anyone who needs help with their “Reply All” etiquette? Send them our way by emailing us at or simply share this article with them (just don’t do it in a mass email).