If there is one thing I’ve learned in Corporate America, its just how powerful the “reply to all” button can be at times. Sure, powerful may not be the best word, but man oh man can it do some damage and provide comedy!

Every now and then, a mild mannered admin somewhere sends out a high level correspondence on the behalf of her boss and makes a simple mistake. He/she may have included a distribution list that was not intended to receive the message, and there we have it, “please stop replying to all.”

At first, the message goes unnoticed by most, but then an unsuspecting response comes in, “hey, I am not sure this email was intended for me.” Like crows on a wire, now everyone is suddenly clued into the email, this then brings us to the second stage of “please stop replying to all.”

Now all of a sudden, hundreds of people reply to everyone else to say “please remove me from this email list,” closely followed by the rest who didn’t think to do that, but now do it because the person before them did.

Stage four, by now, every one is frustrated and does the only thing they know how, reply to all to ask everyone else not to reply to all. But wait, they reply to all, asking everyone they just replied to, not to reply to all. But wait, they reply to all, to…. lol! You see what I am getting at here.

Enter stage five, this is where the brilliance on the email list starts to thrive. The smarter folks now understand what is going on and start to make light of the situation. You get comments like:

“Mmm donuts…”

“The secret trick to getting removed from a lyris mailing list it to type “#R E M O V E$”

Its a little known trick.”

“I just totally lost my faith in humanity.”

Trust me, it gets worst, but I am not going to copy and paste the madness, yes, its that inappropriate. By the way, this is real and is happening right now as I type, I am about 245 emails in.

Stage six brings with it a sad overtone. The original sender now sends out an e-mail to let everyone know it was a mistake and there is no need to reply to all, then they usually toss in a “please be considerate as there are a number of high level people on this list.” You might also get the “please stop replaying to all because these emails are being reviewed and I will get in trouble with upper management.” As you could image, the volume of ignorance now increases!

This then brings us to stage seven, a super high level executive responds with a “you are mistreating company resources, anyone who replies after this message will have a meeting with HR.” It usually stops here, but today, the mishap was not a company email, so people had little to no response to the sternly spoken IT administrator waving around the site’s TOS.

Although it is not funny, a huge waste of people time, a disgrace to professionals to see professionals behaving this way, and a sad occurrence for the original sender, this is all REALLY AMUSING! Also amusing, almost everyone joining in on the “fun” never thought to remove their personal and work phone numbers, email addresses, working titles, real addresses and even names! Wow. On the flip side, I now have a really good list of direct contact numbers to some really high up people in Microsoft, HP and a few other firms. Sweet!

I know you’re wondering what is the name of the company currently in the mix up, you know im not going to tell you that! but just trust me, this is the stuff life is made of!

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