How do you handle replies that don't include all original recipients?

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In summary, the person copied four people, including their division director, but received a response that didn't include all the recipients. They copied the division director and received a response that didn't include all the recipients. They copied the division director and included the boss on their response and received a response that didn't include all the recipients. They copied the division director and included the boss on their response and received a response that included all the recipients.
  • #1
lisab
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I sent out an experimental sample plan a few days ago. I copied four people, including our division director.

Today I got a response from one of the recipients that made it clear he either didn't read the plan, or didn't understand a word of it. I won't claim to be a great technical writer, but this plan was pretty simple to understand. This guy's question didn't make him look good. Kind of like the kid in class who would raise his hand and say, "Teacher, could you say all that again, I wasn't listening."

Here's the thing: he only replied to me, not "Reply all".

I (gently) restated the entire sample plan in simpler terms. I sent it off to him, but I included the original recipients on my answer. By including the boss, I may have made the guy look kind of dumb - not my intention! But in my experience, email communications become a mess when people don't "reply to all".

So what do you do when you get a reply that doesn't include all original recipients?
 
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  • #2
It's very dependent on the e-mail. I think in this case I would have just replied to the slow guy.

There are times when I'll add back in the other recipients, but usually if somebody just replies to me, I take that as a request for a "sidebar" conversation.
 
  • #3
I think I usually do the same as you: just include the rest of the people. I usually do that unless it's a reply from somebody who I know well and if the reply is not for public consumption.
 
  • #4
If the response is something that concerns everyone, then I would reply all. There have been times where the respondent tried to make it private when it should be a group discussion and I replied including all to get it back into the discussion.
 
  • #5
I always think it's best to do the individual side conversation if doing otherwise could make someone look bad. Also, you can be a bit more forceful with folks in 1-on-1 than you usually should in a public forum.

This DOES of course depend on the situation. If someone is consistently needing sidebars, then maybe they're needing a different job and it's a waste of time to go out of your way to be polite to them.
 
  • #6
I feel supervisor or project manager should always be cc-ed. Just for the record in case something goes wrong tommorow because the other person misintrepreted your email.
 
  • #7
If this was for a major project, then I'm with rootX. I wouldn't be comfortable having side conversations without some accountability regarding discourse. It also helps prevent the propagation of misunderstandings and/or misinformation. If he was being lazy or didn't understand it, then he made himself look bad.

That said, there have been times when I've sent a "unicast" reply in response to some trivial detail about something, but this was more in an effort to prevent spamming the others who were cc'd with information not relevant to their responsibilities.
 
  • #8
Dembadon said:
If this was for a major project, then I'm with rootX. I wouldn't be comfortable having side conversations without some accountability regarding discourse. It also helps prevent the propagation of misunderstandings and/or misinformation. If he was being lazy or didn't understand it, then he made himself look bad.

That said, there have been times when I've sent a "unicast" reply in response to some trivial detail about something, but this was more in an effort to prevent spamming the others who were cc'd with information not relevant to their responsibilities.

Yeah it's a relatively big project. Actually it's the first project since the economy really went kapoot, so it seems big, at least. I think everyone's a bit out of practice with how to do teamwork :smile:.

And especially since it's right at the beginning, it's critical for everyone to be on the same page. If he's confused, we all need to know.
 
  • #9
I think you screwed up royally lisab. Oh wait, can everyone read this?
 
  • #10
Hopefully it didn't really make him look that bad, because in that case, it might make you look somewhat inconsiderate. However, as long as both his and your emails were polite and professional, I doubt it was a big deal.

Personally, if someone replies to me individually, I reply back individually. If I think it is something that should concern everyone, I'll reply to the individual and then send a follow up email to my original email (not reply to the reply,) and say something like "In case there's confusion regarding XYZ..." and then restate what I had stated in the personal email. That way it stays professional and bases are covered without causing unnecessary conflict or embarrassment for the confused individual.
 
  • #11
lisab said:
I (gently) restated the entire sample plan in simpler terms. I sent it off to him, but I included the original recipients on my answer. By including the boss, I may have made the guy look kind of dumb - not my intention! But in my experience, email communications become a mess when people don't "reply to all".

So what do you do when you get a reply that doesn't include all original recipients?

I read that as; The guy who didn't read/understand/pay attention made himself look "kind of dumb".

Call a spade a spade & "there's no crying in baseball.", especially is this has to do with a financial bottom line.

On the personal side though, I think it would be just to tell that person privately their inquiry was "kinda dumb" and why. You should lead the horse to water at least once.

Oh and of course bring the person up to speed on that reply all thing.
 
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  • #12
What really bugs me about emails when someone requests a receipt that you read the email! It's always annoying but I do send my confirmation.
 
  • #13
Gale said:
Hopefully it didn't really make him look that bad, because in that case, it might make you look somewhat inconsiderate. However, as long as both his and your emails were polite and professional, I doubt it was a big deal.

Personally, if someone replies to me individually, I reply back individually. If I think it is something that should concern everyone, I'll reply to the individual and then send a follow up email to my original email (not reply to the reply,) and say something like "In case there's confusion regarding XYZ..." and then restate what I had stated in the personal email. That way it stays professional and bases are covered without causing unnecessary conflict or embarrassment for the confused individual.

Well said & quite diplomatic, an important thing with peer relations.
 
  • #14
lisab said:
I sent it off to him, but I included the original recipients on my answer. By including the boss, I may have made the guy look kind of dumb - not my intention! But in my experience, email communications become a mess when people don't "reply to all".

So what do you do when you get a reply that doesn't include all original recipients?

There is 'on the record' and 'off the record', if the answer repeated the knowns and did not include new information, I would not have cc'ed anybody and risk that the recipient would not trust me ever again, keeping things off the record and making him look stupid. Actually, if possible I would have called him by phone and settle it - not leaving records

Actually things like this have been my main job for several years, getting a plan to be executed and that requires a lot of tete a tete's
 
  • #15
Gale said:
Hopefully it didn't really make him look that bad, because in that case, it might make you look somewhat inconsiderate. However, as long as both his and your emails were polite and professional, I doubt it was a big deal.

Personally, if someone replies to me individually, I reply back individually. If I think it is something that should concern everyone, I'll reply to the individual and then send a follow up email to my original email (not reply to the reply,) and say something like "In case there's confusion regarding XYZ..." and then restate what I had stated in the personal email. That way it stays professional and bases are covered without causing unnecessary conflict or embarrassment for the confused individual.

^ Probably the best way to handle it.
 
  • #16
Normally I would reply to the individual, I would always feel "covered" doing this as the email trail is there. As others have said though, it depends on circumstances and a big project may activate my "caution radar" and then I would reply all just to play safe.
 
  • #17
lisab said:
... he either didn't read the plan, or didn't understand a word of it.

Dyslexia? Hyperlexia?
 
  • #18
I normally put the original recipients back on the email chain unless it's a quick question that one person has. If the questions persist, I will usually put everyone back on the chain with the assumption that I must not have conveyed myself properly and the answers might be useful to others.

If you're feeling guilty about putting everyone back on, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Nobody should ever expect that an email won't get forwarded or cc'd. If he doesn't understand that, he's got bigger worries about looking dumb.
 

Related to How do you handle replies that don't include all original recipients?

1. What is email etiquette?

Email etiquette refers to the set of rules and guidelines that govern the proper use of email in a professional or personal setting. It includes things like appropriate language, tone, formatting, and response time.

2. Why is email etiquette important?

Email etiquette is important because it helps to ensure clear and effective communication. It also helps to maintain professionalism and respect in interactions with colleagues, clients, and other contacts. Proper email etiquette can also help to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

3. What are some common email etiquette mistakes to avoid?

Some common email etiquette mistakes to avoid include using a casual or unprofessional tone, not checking for spelling and grammar errors, using all caps or excessive punctuation, forwarding chain emails, and not responding in a timely manner.

4. How can I improve my email etiquette?

To improve your email etiquette, you can start by being mindful of your language and tone, using proper formatting and structure, proofreading your emails before sending them, and responding promptly to important emails. It can also be helpful to follow the lead of others in your workplace or industry.

5. Is there a difference in email etiquette for personal and professional emails?

Yes, there is a difference in email etiquette for personal and professional emails. While both should follow basic rules of respect and clarity, professional emails should maintain a more formal tone and use proper salutations and signatures. Personal emails can be more casual and may not require as much attention to detail in terms of formatting and grammar.

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