“Reply To All”: Use At Your Own Risk

Microsoft has made a mistake and it has gone uncorrected for too long      Did you ever hit “reply to all” when you meant to hit only “reply.” This particular feature of Windows has created more trouble and unintended consequences then all the other Windows features. This email option should come with an “on” or “off” switch that can be set according to the user’s preference. This would be similar to the privacy settings on a computer. You can set the degree of privacy according to your wishes. Another way to fix this problem is to incorporate a prompt feature in which a small box appears and it asks the user “are you sure you want to do this?” These prompt boxes are already a feature in other parts of the Windows program. The “reply” and “reply to all” buttons are too close together and it too easy to hit one while meaning to it the other. This is not an insignificant problem. It is not like a spelling mistake nor is it  like a grammatical error. Hitting “reply to all” by mistake usually has embarrassment written all over it. It frequently affects relationships, business and personal, in adverse ways. When you reply to an individual person there is an expectation of privacy. The people communicating with each other tend to assume that their conversation will not be over-heard or subject to gossip by others. The “reply to all” immediately negates those assumptions. More importantly the mistake is instantaneous. It is in writing and it cannot be taken back. The unintended recipients get an immediate shock which frequently leads to embarrassment and, in many business situations, the loss of a customer or the cancelling of a deal. On a more personal note, people’s feelings can get hurt and relationships destroyed. There is no longer the luxury of an off-hand remark. All of these unfortunate consequences could be obviated by a “prompt screen” before sending a”reply to all” email. Please reply!


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