Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Don’t include the uninvited (a rant)

A pet peeve of mine is when I email someone and, when they reply, they add a new recipient or few into the conversation.

Please don’t do this. It’s unprofessional and a tacky breach of email etiquette.

Here are a three reasons why:
  1. It wastes time. Not everyone needs to be included in every email about a topic, especially if it’s an initial communication. This is true even if later -- after all issues are clear and resolved, after all the facts are found -- others may need to be informed. Then they can be added -- by the originator. In the meantime, why bother them? It merely annoys busy people as well as clutters and confuses the conversation.
  2. It implies misdoing. Whether you intend it or not, to suddenly include a new recipient or two can imply to the originator of the conversation that you think they’re trying to get away with something. That they’re trying to go around someone. Or, it can imply shady doings to those added in making them wonder what’s up when nothing is amiss. It wrongly introduces mistrust and falsely casts aspersion.
  3. It can complicate the simple. An email may need only a simple response. The originator has carefully chosen the recipients and asked for what he/she needs to know. No more, no less. Adding in new recipients will almost always generate additional emails asking for clarifications, expressing confusion, injecting unwanted input, causing emotional distress, and on and on. What was easy-peasy becomes a muddled mess.
So, what to do?

The general rule of thumb is to only reply to the person sending the email -- the originator. Or, if it’s a group conversation (as determined by the originator), reply all only to the original recipients.

“But,” you object, “what if I feel really strongly about including someone new?”

Then call or email the original sender, tell them who you want to add and why, and ask them if they mind the addition.

What you probably will discover is that the originator intends to include the person or persons you have in mind at a later date. Often after details are worked out and settled. But only if the initial conversation yields a positive response that leads to further action. If not, then there’s no reason for bugging others (see #1 above).

One more caution: There may be very sensitive and confidential reasons for not including someone in a conversation. These are things you’re not privy to and are none of your business. Adding uninvited others into an email can be a serious ruffling of the proverbial feathers creating chaos, havoc, and serious personal and professional damage. This is never good.

If there really is a reason to add someone in, let the originator of the original email do so. They started the conversation, so, with respect, allow them to manage it. Don’t usurp their conversation.

Adding someone into an email conversation you didn’t initiate isn’t your call. Period.

And don’t even get me started on BCCs! Oy vey!

Okay, I know this isn’t a “spiritual” topic but I do think respectful and clear communications is an important tact for Christians. Feel free to offer a scripture that supports this. Do you agree with my post? Can you think of exceptions to this rule? What are they? Have you experienced someone adding in new recipients when replying to an email? How did you deal with it? Did it ever create unnecessary conflict or other issues? Please sound off in the comments!

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