Friday, November 28, 2008

Reply to All

A colleague of mine called me on Wednesday night and said, "Next time you write about business, please address 'reply to all.'" Then, I said, "And spam. Nothing is worse than spam, especially if it is promoting a point of view that doesn't belong in business." She agreed that sappy poems about dead relatives, religious dogma and off-color jokes don't belong in business communications.

So what is "Reply to All"?
When you receive a message from the boss and every other employee gets the same message, that does not mean everyone on the team wants to know your input or even needs to. If they are your peers, they're probably not the decision maker in the situation, but like you, needs to be aware of information that the supervisor is sending out.
  • If you have a question, reply only to the sender.
  • Do not reply at all if you're not required to and if you understand the message that was sent initially. Your supervisor is paid too much money to read an in-box full of, "Thank you" and "I agree" messages.
What is Spam?
Spam originally got its name from a Monty Python song whose lyrics consist of the same word over and over again: Spam. The repetition, lack of necessary content, and annoyance at receiving these junk e-mails can be frustrating at best.

Before you select "send" ask yourself:
  • Is this business related or related to the professional development of anyone on this team? If so, you should send it only to those who are directly connected the message.
  • Is it promoting a personal view (including political, religious, or any area that can be considered an "-ism" such as sexism or racism)? If so, STOP and do not send.
  • Is it in celebration of a holiday, cause or event that the company is sponsoring? If so, send it along to those who will need to make work adjustments to be on board.
  • Is it in celebration of a holiday, cause or event that is not connected to work, professional development of any staff, or just sounds like fun? Unless there is a precedent set by the management to send out such information, don't do it. You never know who you may offend and it might land you in a chair in the human resources office if supervisors feel you're not using work time to do your job first, and play on your own time.
  • Is it religious in nature? Unless you work for a religion-based company, don't send it. The world is full of enough discrimination without someone having to hear, yet again, how your point of view is good, right and best. Be respectful and responsible and never assume that "everyone" at the office celebrates the same religious holidays or customs. It is simply narrow-minded in this global age to believe that everyone is the same.
In short, e-mail is a tool for business when you're at work. If what you're sending does not support the business or the message of the company, you should save those messages for your circle of friends or social media sites that you access off the clock.

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