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Email Etiquette: Rethink Replies to Listservs

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate, and Mary Caskey, Associate Program Director

Email these days. It’s hard to keep up. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all agreed on how to make each others’ lives easier by sending fewer emails?

In this Email Etiquette tip, we propose rethinking how we congratulate colleagues on listservs. In the past couple months, we’ve seen an uptick of announcements of media covering the great work of FD staff. On the helpful side, the announcements sent through the FD or H&N listserv are a good way to celebrate our colleagues and inform everybody about what they’re doing. On the less helpful side, the congratulatory responses to these announcements can clog our email inboxes.

Did you know that every time someone replies to an email from the FD listserv, that reply lands in over 150 email inboxes? Let’s look at how we can show enthusiasm for our colleagues’ accomplishments, as well as show respect for their inboxes.

Here’s a typical email and how I might respond:

In this example, I’ve hit “reply,” which automatically populates the “To:” field with the listserv address. If I hit “send” at this point, all FD staff will know that I think Letty is just the coolest and that I want to get coffee with her sometime. Is this helpful or distracting for my colleagues? We’d put it in the “distracting” category.

So let’s try a different approach. I’ll delete the listserv address by selecting it and then clicking the “x” next to the words:

Then I will start typing Letty’s name in the “To:” field until her address pops up:

Now I can safely send Letty an email about how cool she is and how much I want to get coffee with her without distracting my colleagues.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Contact Hannah Jastram or Mary Caskey.

UPDATE (8/4/2017): If the activity on a particular email thread is getting too much for you and is no longer relevant to you, you can take an action that affects only your inbox: mute. Muting a conversation in Gmail means all further replies will be automatically archived. For more details, read What Does Mute Mean in Gmail?
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