How to Reply to Email II

Reply or Reply to AllChances are you will send and reply to as many as 100 – 250 email today. How you reply to email is therefore important.

Your email etiquette may be great – or you may be unintentionally frustrating your clients and co-workers. Let’s face it, email appears free to most of us. It’s also one of the fastest ways to ask a question or provide information and instructions. Terrific Yes?

Sure it’s terrific – but when you unintentionally misuse email etiquette you are also frustrating your clients, co-workers and boss.

This is the second of a two-part series of ‘How to Reply to Email I & II where I review two more email writing challenges.

When To Use Reply vs. Reply All?

The reality is many people abuse To… and Cc… sending their messages to too many people because email is free, fast and hey – better safe than sorry right? What they don’t realize is that 9 times out of 10 they are literally wasting the valuable time of many people – often including their boss. This ends up costing organizations in lost productivity.

If you simply hit Reply All… to a message you’ve received, you will be painting yourself with the same brush (as my dad would say).  In other words, if they misused To… and Cc… your personal and corporate reputation will suffer as well when you hit Reply All…

How do you decide if you should hit Reply or Reply to All…? Protect your reputation by following these two simple rules:

  1. Look to see who is in the (To: CC: BCC:) fields. Many of us don’t do this, but we should. Instead, we blindly place our reputation in the hands of whoever sent the email. Yikes!!
  2. Decide if your comments are needed by everyone in the distribution list.

With a quick review you’ll know for certain where you’ll do damage if you choose to select Reply All.

Keep Your Reply Short

Keep your replies short but don’t be abrupt or rude. I recommend using your personal and corporate values. Consider the following example and the ‘good-will and relationship’ the latter message builds vs. a ‘they don’t really care’ feeling from the first reply.

      Bad Email Example:        Approved

If this is your response it will be seen as abrupt and rude in 9 out of 10 cases. I recommend this only when each person knows the other very very well.

     Good Email Example:       Approved – great working with you and being on schedule

This is a much better choice and enhances your relationship.


  • Take ownership of everything that has your name attached
  • Consider the needs of the people you send messages to
  • Do not use Reply All all the time… but use it when it is appropriate
  • Know that you and other people will make mistakes once in a while (we are all human)
  • Correct errors or miscommunication as soon as you are able

Happy communication and email writing. 

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness. Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

One Response to How to Reply to Email II

  1. Pingback: Email Group Distribution Lists: Love or… Love less « Bruce Mayhew Blog: Business Communication

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