I have an idea for Microsoft, the creators of Outlook email. They desperately need to “gray out” or disable the “reply to all” button. “Reply to all” should be earned after the user demonstrates he is worthy of the privilege. And yes, Smarties, “reply to all” is a privilege and not a right. It might be the most abused piece of functionality in email today, far surpassing the “forward”.
For a loooong time, all emails from my dad (and other family members such as aunts and uncles) were forwards. You know…jokes, pass this to 10 friends, funniest things that cats do, daily prayer, etc. On many occasions, I resisted the urge to reply “unsubscribe”. Sadly, they were not aware of email’s many other capabilities besides forwarding an email that was sent to them. But, I digress.
There is nothing more annoying in the workplace than when people misuse “reply to all”. You know what I’m talking about.
I would like to start a movement and convince my company to disable the “reply to all” button for our 280,000 team members until the individual demonstrates they are worthy of such a privilege. If successful, then I would create a new job for myself, and an entirely new organization within the company, dedicated to creating and managing the process for deciding when/where/how one gets access to their “reply to all” button. I might make people take a test to ensure they are ready for the responsibility. I might allow a probationary period whereby they can “reply to all” until they abuse it.
These “reply to all” uh-ohs deserve a spot in the “Reply To All Hall of Shame”.
Reply To All Hall of Shame – nominee 1:
A manager sent a new job opening via email to the department asking if anyone knew qualified candidates. One employee hit “reply to all” by accident and told her that he would like to interview for the position because his current manager is terrible, stifles his growth, lacks integrity, etc. and then details his annual salary and bonus. You could hear gasps, shrieks and OMGs across the floor as the email was opened. I wonder how his current boss felt about being dogged out to 100 colleagues. I wonder what his peers thought as they compared their salary and bonus to his.
Reply To All Hall of Shame – nominee 2:
A leader sent an email to 175 employees informing the department of the new “paid time off” policies. One employee hit “reply to all” by accident and shared a racy account of a recent guys trip to Vegas complete with lewd photos and offensive language. I wonder what his 175 fellow colleagues thought of his Vegas trip. I have never been more embarrassed for anyone in my life.
Reply To All Hall of Shame – nominee 3:
This one’s a classic and happens to me at least once a week. When someone gets promoted or leaves the company, the manager typically sends an atta girl/atta boy email (in the case of a promotion) or an “it is with mixed emotions” email (in the case of a departure). You can always count on one recipient to start the “reply to all” domino. Let’s say the initial email goes to 300 people. Then, you can count on deleting the “way to go” or “we’ll miss you” emails for at least the next 2 weeks.
Smarties, let’s stop the madness. Will you sign my “Reply to All: A privilege not a right” petition? Let’s save these folks from themselves!