Welcome to That’s Better Thursday. You’ll find tiny tips to save time, increase efficiency, and make you say, “That’s better!”
This one’s about those dreaded accidental “Reply All” email chains.
You know, the ones where some unfortunate colleague thinks he’s contacting a single person but accidentally selects a massive distribution list. Hundreds, even thousands of people are erroneously copied on his email. If you lean closely to your Inbox, you can almost hear the “Nooooooo!” as the sender falls from the cliff of doom in recognition of his error.
But does he do the sensible thing and go to Actions > Recall > Delete all copies of this message? Nope.
He sits with elbows on the table, pressing the hair clumps in his hands against his temples, as if that will squeeze the error past the entire organization who, about now, is opening this seemingly innocent, albeit puzzling email.
And this is just the beginning.
Next, a single unsuspecting recipient hits Reply All and asks, “Would you please remove me from this email chain?” after realizing that the content is not relevant to her. “That’ll take care of it,” she thinks as she swipes her hands back and forth in the spic and span clean way we humans do when we think we’ve completed a simple task. Meanwhile, the entire distribution list now has two ticking time bombs assembled in their inbox.
Pause for effect.
Suddenly a deluge of “Take me off of this list!” and “Me too!” emails pour into your trembling Inbox. It’s mildly amusing but mostly annoying at this point, as you figure surely this will stop when people realize they’re adding to the very same hairball they’re trying to untangle.
And this isn’t the worst part.
Now the heroes step in with “Stop hitting Reply All” and “It’s simple. Just don’t Reply All” rants to educate the foolish initial Reply-ers, by Replying All, of course. At this point you have no choice but to sputter aloud acronyms like WTF and AYFKM? and OMFG, as your knowing cubemates shake their heads in simultaneous disbelief and Dilbertian resignation.
Now your Inbox has a sort of artistic look to it as dozens of Reply All messages pile up, all with the same “RE: (insert the same original Subject line)” over and over and over. Kind of like the kid from junior high who hadn’t paid attention in class all semester, taking the standardized test by filling in a pretty Christmas tree pattern on the circles that were intended for correct, if not earnest, answers.
You figure you have two choices at this point:
A. Jump into the fray and use this as a chance to rage against the machine with your own witty Reply All.
B. Wait out the storm for a few hours (days?), then place the text from the original email subject line into quotes, search for that subject line text in your inbox and delete all of the offeding results.
Either way, you just thank your lucky stars that this time, without a doubt, there is someone having a worse day than you.
But wait, there’s a better way!
TL;DR: Next time you sniff a Reply All stew brewing, just do this:
Right click on any of the emails in this hideous brigade of repetitive tom-foolery, and Select “Ignore.” And…*Poof*
You will be removed from all subsequent emails related to the poor sap’s original eFaux pas. Like this…
Please share comments with your ideas for saving time and energy.
About Dr. Hendrich
During two decades of leading teams toward extraordinary results in health care, pharmaceutical, arts & cultural, university and military organizations, she’s always been inspired by the stories of others who have achieved uncommon results through perseverence, positivity and prying opportunity from challenge. Susan’s mantra is “ganbatte kudasai,“ which means, “Always try your best.”