ocean storm

The Perfect Email Storm

I learned a new term today; it’s called an “email storm.”

Here’s how it happens. You want to send an email announcing a promotion, welcome a new colleague to your team, etc. What happens next is the “storm.” In addition to including the recipient’s name in the “To:” section, you also include a mail group list or a large number of colleague names in the “Cc:” section.

The colleagues (Cc:) you included receive the email and in responding, mistakenly hit the reply all instead of the reply button. Uh oh, the “storm” grows, the floodgate is blown open and emails start multiplying like rabbits in inboxes across the company. As you can imagine, the volume of emails our colleagues receive can be overwhelming at times. So, to help reduce the problem, we conducted research to come up with two simple guidelines you can follow:

  • If you are the sender of the email, insert the colleague’s names (secondary recipients) you want to receive the email in the “Bcc:” section – not the “Cc;” section.
  • If you are a recipient of the email and want to respond with a note, please press the “reply” button – not the “reply all.”

If you’re ever in doubt as to when it’s appropriate to use the “reply all” button. The simple answer is “never” or “only if absolutely necessary.” I’m told there are a few situations in which it could be absolutely necessary to press the “reply all” button however, I consulted several experts on the topic and couldn’t find any.

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