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#206 Replying to “all”

February 28, 2013

One of the most damning things you can ever say about an Expat Aid Worker is that she/he “works in silos.”

Like a black mark on a 3rd-grader’s report card in the “Plays well with others” box, “works in silos”, “doesn’t coordinate“, “never shares information“, and a thousand poignant variants thereof are the ultimate take-down of any EAW or NGO employee so foolish as to believe that simply buckling down and focusing on ones’ own tasks was sufficient. No, in a universe where multiple stakeholder management and internal client focus and cross-functional intra-team integration is assumed to be synonymous with “impact”, today’s EAW who wishes to avoid being tarred with a very black brush understands that no decision, no task is too small or inconsequential to necessitate involving the broadest possible range of interested parties, irrespective of their respective degrees of legitimate business interest in the issue under discussion.

Thankfully, (as is so frequently the case) modern technology has a solution: “Reply All.”


With a few simple mouse clicks, today’s EAW can achieve maximum synergy while simultaneously enhancing broad-based ownership in any discussion. It’s easier than it seems, actually. All one has to do is:

Click “reply all.”

No need to exercise judgement over who in the 50+ long distribution is actually relevant to the discussion at hand. Similarly, no need to restrict circulation: if the original author saw fit to cc. 107 people, then the EAW’s response can be assumed to be of urgent interest to all of them. Which leads to the final point that no response is too mundane: the corollary of “everyone’s important” is “I’m always important.” So when the EAW receives an obviously mistaken email, it is of great importance that she/he “reply all” so that all 300 (+/-) of the original recipients know that she/he is “out of office”, or “agrees that this is a hugely important discussion”, or  “doesn’t know anything about this.”

Just as it is important to include the broadest possible range of email recipients in a given context, so it is similarly important to self-actualize oneself to the stage where one realizes that one’s response is always needed. If the email comes to your box, it is specifically because the sender wanted your response. Your colleagues desperately want to know what you think, particularly if you’re so busy that your response can be only a few pithy phrases. Regardless of the issue, your input is of value by definition.

For the good of humanity, as a means of adding value to a dialogic, participatory process, or simply so as to remain an empowered co-stakeholder…

(Naturally you’ll reply [not replying would never do].)

Just be sure to reply to “all.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 28, 2013 6:53 pm


    Tip: replying all with just ‘unsubscribe’ in the text field can win the EAW a few valuable laughs for the next session at the expat bar.

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