An email with a long list of recipients can be an easy way to accomplish tasks quickly. It can also be an infuriating way to jam up your inbox for days. Let's set some ground rules.

  • Bill Lai, Getty Images
    Bill Lai, Getty Images

    Think Before You Click

    Before you hit the "Reply To All" button, you should ask yourself "does everybody need to read this?" Almost always the answer is no. This is especially true when the original email was intended to distribute basic office information. No one cares what you think about the third floor copier being broken and how your day is ruined. Take the information in, use it and delete the email. The draft folder is as far as your reply should go.

  • Funny Computer
    Funny Computer

    Avoid Inside Jokes

    Mass email is great because it allows you to communicate with many people. The downside is that one "office champion" that feels they are so close to the person who sent the original email that they will 'reply all' with "yeah, kind of like that late night back in September when we got drunk and woke up in Winnipeg." What the hell does THAT mean? Chances are it was marginally amusing to the person it was meant for. For everyone else, it's 5 seconds of our lives we'll never get back having to delete that nonsense. Hate to break it to're not funny!

  • Daly and Newton, Getty Images
    Daly and Newton, Getty Images

    Answer The Question

    So you're on an email string at work with about 30 or so other people. Your boss sends out a mass email asking "how should we go about finalizing the Murphy account?" You know there's that one dimwit who will reply all with "I don't know guys, what do you think?" Now that's just not helping anyone. It's certainly not helping the other 29 people who's deleted folder just got one email heavier. Answer questions directly and get right to the point. For example, "Murphy's a sucker. Let's take his money and tell him the check is in the mail." See, progress.

  • William Howard, Getty Images
    William Howard, Getty Images

    Don't Just Say 'Thank You' or 'Congratulations'

    Dear Staff, Due to a record setting quarter we are closing the office early on Friday.


    The Boss

    5, 4, 3, 2, 1...wait for it...da-dum. The blue box of doom in the lower right of your screen pops up with the first kiss ass "Thanks!" Great, now I have to stop sending my credit card information the the King of Nigeria to collect my 2 million dollar inheritance so I can delete ANOTHER useless email. The congratulatory emails are even worse. Do I need a hundred "way to go's," "go get 'em's," or "nice work's?" What if I don't think Hank in accounting deserves a congrats for winning 4th place in the fly fishing tournament over the weekend?

    Golden rule: When replying "thanks" or "congratulations" to a mass e-mail, FORWARD the original email to the person you want to thank or give cudos to. 
  • Noel Hendrickson, Getty Images
    Noel Hendrickson, Getty Images

    If Sending A 'Reply To All,' NEVER 'CC' Additional People

    Why? There's no need to drag more poor souls into your never ending email ping pong match. I doubt Mitch in maintenance needs to to be 'CC'd' on the email about your weekend trip to Niagara Falls. Do you even know who Mitch is? Have you spoken to him in person...ever? Beware of the passive aggressive CC'ers on 'Reply To All' emails. You know, Marge one seat over who doesn't like you because you never came to her cat party? Chances are she'll catch you when your guard is down when you say something stupid (it happens.) That's when the boss is suddenly part of the group email all thanks to the dreaded CC and Marge the crazy cat lady.

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