Right next to the “reply” button on every email you receive is a similar looking button, “reply-all.” “Reply-all” is very useful when you are emailing back and forth with a group of four friends or planning a meeting among several coworkers. Despite its useful intent, “reply-all” is a dangerous button for a couple reasons.
Working in a big investment bank, there are many mass emails sent to everyone in the first worldwide or other large groups of employees. You might want to respond to the sender to make fun of him if he is a friend of yours. Or you might be responding because you have an answer for the person’s question. Both can fit in the “whoops” category if you only meant to reply to the original sender, not the whole list.
In one case, if the sender is a friend of yours you might respond something like “Bite me!” to try and mess with your buddy. Normally this would be pretty slick, but you accidentally went for the the “reply-all” button. Yeaaaa, not a smart move! You just let the CEO and 20,000 other people know that you are too stupid to check twice before you send an email and that you have the maturity of a 12-year old boy. You might want to pack your bags now because odds are you have overstayed your welcome at this job.
The other “whoops” case can occur when a coworker emails out to say he will be resigning and going on to another opportunity and you make the mistake of replying to everyone saying, “I think you picked a good time to leave. This job can break a man’s will and the firm is heading to shit.” Probablyyyyyy not a smart idea. Glad you think that Ted, maybe you would be better served working elsewhere then? Buh-bye safe job. I bet your wife won’t mind that six-figure salary leaving the household because you decided to speak your mind. Carpe diem!
The “Funny Guy”
Usually someone tries to be funny and “reply-all” when the email list is only analysts or some other group that does not include higher ups. Unless he or she really has some big cahones. Come Friday, analysts are actually in a good mood because it’s almost drinking time, so they get back into the college mindset and are ready to attack anyone who sends a silly mass email. An example of this situation is that there is an email out to all of the analysts asking if anyone wants free Miley Cyrus concert tickets. Someone decides that instead of just saying yes to the sender, to reply to all recipients saying “OMG YES!!!! Hannah Montana!!!” (I had to use google to know the Miley Cyrus-Hannanh Montana connection....) This is basically a layup for the class clown to go to work, it’s just a question of which depressed analyst takes the bait and what route he goes for. The quick reply is to say “Thanks Roger Clemens, how about you go for someone your own age?” But that would just be classeless…The more normal response would be to send a reply-all photo from Miley Cyrus’ new half-nude poses or a simple “LOL LYLAS No one cares! I heard Backstreet’s back too.”
The makers of Microsoft Outlook should move the “reply-all” button far from the “reply” button so people stop making this mistake. If they were not so close people could use it when they mean to, but wouldn’t make the mistake of wasting everyone else’s time. While it’s nice to be able to laugh every once in a while when someone slips up and sends “Bite me” to the whole firm, most of the time I’d rather people just not embarrass themselves and fill my inbox with useless babble. Your move Microsoft.