what’s the etiquette for reply-all email disasters? — Ask a Manager


what’s the etiquette for reply-all email disasters?

A reader writes:

Can we get a definitive ruling on the etiquette when someone accidentally emails an incorrect email list in a large office? Today I went to lunch for 40 minutes and came back to 239 emails — someone emailed the wrong distribution list for a request (there were over 1,000 people on this list). It always starts with few people emailing back and replying to all that it’s the wrong list, but then more people pile on. Soon we are in a “reply all” hell of emails saying “please remove me from this list” or “I received this in error.” Then it inevitably descends into “please stop replying all” and “why are people replying to all?”

Today it got so bad that my Outlook crashed. I have now received 430 emails less than 70 minutes. It’s descending into madness! Shouldn’t we all just delete after we see the first couple emails alerting the person to what happened? Why are people piling on?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Colleague causes confusion with voice-to-text
  • Can I forward a candidate to my old employer?
  • Can I ask someone to stop tagging me on LinkedIn?



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