When should you click on “reply to all?” »Take a break before sending, say experts

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Radhika Panjwani is a former Toronto journalist and blogger.

Jen Fisher, head of work-life integration and wellness at Deloitte, is on a mission to end a modern-day plague: the plague of “reply all” emails.

Replying to All, when an e-mail writer addresses his message to one recipient but addresses several people, may seem harmless. And while some may even see it as a vital cog in organizational communication, often the thread goes on for days and is of no use to the majority of recipients.

Ms. Fisher’s annoyance with ‘answer all’ surfaced when she returned to work after spending the summer perfectly disconnected from technology, she wrote in a recent post. blog post for Thrive Global.

As soon as she powered up her laptop, she was bombarded with an inbox full of stupid replies to all emails – “Got it! ” “Above!” and thank you! ”to name a few.

“As humans, we adopt technology very quickly but we are slow to adapt to it,” she continues in the blog post, referring to Better work together, a book she co-wrote with Anh Phillips.

“And being deliberate about how we use technology means we can put it to good use for us, not the other way around. The goal is to make conscious rather than unconscious choices about what to do with our time and attention. And there are few tech habits less conscious than responding to all of them.

Ms. Fisher says it’s important to understand that email is not an effective collaboration tool. If a large number of people have to work together on a large project, a much better communication tool would be specialized software, like Trello or Slack. Even when using collaborative tools, individuals should be attentive and schedule a specific time to check them out, she says.

Since most emails are part of a business feedback loop to let managers or supervisors know that there is action on a request, Ms. Fisher suggests that team leaders create an environment of trust. .

“The key is to increase communication from the start,” says Fisher. “For example, try having a conversation with your team to understand that when you send something to yourself, you trust the recipient. No response needed! Make it clear to your team that if you need direct feedback, this must be indicated in the e-mail.

Email Etiquette Tips

Bruce mayhew, Toronto-based corporate trainer and speaker and communication and leadership expert, says email remains the best tool if you need to confirm and share information, ask questions, send documents and to create a permanent record of a transaction.

But Mr Mayhew says it’s important to understand how to communicate well through the tone of your email, or your “digital body language”.

He says that if one is not aware, people can, because of their email, present themselves as rude, bossy, hostile or even passive-aggressive. And if an existing relationship between the recipient and the sender is already strained, it is very likely that their digital body language will be interpreted negatively.

When you write effectively, you save time, reduce stress, and build a positive personal and professional reputation, he says.

Bruce’s five rules of email etiquette are:

  • Write as if you were face to face.
  • If you are triggered negatively, pause before responding. Make sure you respond with intention rather than reaction.
  • Remember that everything a reader interprets from your email is real to them, even if you didn’t think it was.
  • Remember that your priorities are not necessarily those of your reader. Write in a way that makes your reader want to respond or pay attention.
  • Every time you click “send” you are affecting your personal and professional reputation, so be fully aware of this.

What I read on the web

  • If you’re caught in an ethical dilemma, how about ignoring the blame and asking Delphi, a machine learning model from the Allen Institute for AI. If you type in a situation or dilemma (“is it okay to eat in a restaurant and leave without paying the tip?”), Then click “think”, and within seconds Delphi will give you some wise advice, according to item in futuristic. Except that Delphi has prejudices, some of which are disturbing.
  • The world is hungry for crisps. Not edibles. According to this item by Tim Culpan in The Business World, Samsung Electronics Co. has pledged to invest more than $ 150 billion in advanced chip manufacturing. It joins others such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Intel Corp., Micron Technology, Inc. and SK Hynix, Inc. Chips are essential components for smartphones, power data centers and are expected to power cars. .
  • Social media platform Twitter lost half a billion dollars after settling lawsuit, according to this item at the BBC. Com. In 2015, Twitter was accused of misleading investors about user engagement. Despite the loss, Twitter’s quarterly revenue grew 37%.

More from Globe Careers

Is vaccine hesitancy a reason for stopping? In this week Nine to five advice column, a manager who recently discovered that an employee was waiting to get vaccinated to “see how things are going.” “Evidence-based research is a pillar of our work and I no longer trust him to do this work for our company,” they say, but wonder if that’s a valid reason to let them go.

Is it time to try timeboxing? Instead of the standard to-do list, columnist Harvey Schachter suggests you try timeboxing, a strategy of placing your to-do list in designated time slots on your calendar.


Leadership Lab is a series where executives, experts and writers share their perspectives and advice on the world of work. You can find all of the Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab and guidelines on how to contribute to the topic here.

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