A coworker of mine has recently started forwarding all sorts of newsletters, community event details, and promotions to the company-wide email distribution list. None of the stuff she forwards have anything to do with the company or business in general, they are just things she thinks are interesting. These are distracting and they clutter my inbox.

I've talked with several other coworkers, and nobody finds these types of emails useful or informative, so we're trying to figure out a way to get her to quit doing it.

I would just block all of her emails, but things like payroll information, vacation scheduling, and other important workplace related emails also come from her.

Am I being overly sensitive to this? Should I just keep quietly trashing those emails, or is there a polite way to resolve this for everyone?

4 Answers 4


Since you are a peer, not a manager, you can't very well address this for the sake of everyone. However, you can approach her and tell her that the extra emails are overwhelming you, and ask if she could please not send them to you.

For her to comply will make a lot of extra work for her, because she'll have to either quit using the company distribution list, or carefully remove your name after the fact. She might find it easier to just quit. Or, she might find it easier to ignore your request.

If others are also objecting, you can recommend that they also talk to her and ask to be removed.

A reasonable person will see that several people prefer to not get the emails, and will either figure out a way to not send it to those few who speak up (not easy) or will quit sending them (easy). An unreasonable person will ignore the requests.

If she is unreasonable, then the next step is to go to your manager. Point out that the extra emails makes it hard to find the legitimate ones, and ask how he would like you to handle it. If he doesn't want to handle it, then you're stuck with combing through the emails for the ones you need.

  • +1 for taking it up directly with the person and explaining the effect her behavior has on your work.
    – O. Jones
    Commented Jun 11, 2014 at 20:27
  • 6
    For less effort from her part, you can ask her to use a specific title for this kind of email and then filter it out.
    – dyesdyes
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 11:11
  • @dyesdyes yes, that's a good idea. Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 15:16
  • What's a problem with having two mailing lists, one for strictly business only and one for non-business messages? That way everyone can choose what they follow. Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 8:16

While the other answers deal with the interpersonal aspect of this particular instance, I think it's pertinent to mention that there are technical solutions you can implement so that similar situations do not occur in future.

It's possible to set restrictions on who can send to a distribution list. This is usually handled by your IT administrator.

While each email service handles this slightly differently, the basic premise is to maintain a whitelist of 'trusted' employees who are allowed to email the 'All Staff' distribution list. For example, you may only want your department heads (Head of HR, Head of Finance etc) & Board members to be able to use this list, so you add their names to the list of allowed users.

This doesn't just stop at the 'All Staff' list either - any distribution list can be restricted in the same manner and allow for different 'whitelists' of approved mailers.

There are helpful guides on the internet for configuring this for your specific email service (e.g. Office 365, Exchange), but your IT administrator/team should investigate which solution makes the most sense for your setup.

  • Hi @Acccumulation, thanks for your feedback :) 1. Is why I ended the answer with saying the IT admin should handle this (I've now edited it to make it clearer following your feedback) 2. Depends on the size of the organisation. It's not often that business cases require every employee to be able to reach everyone - smaller distribution lists based on team, project etc could be unrestricted. 3. Yes, but this is not a reason to not implement the restrictions - it also acts as a buffer to 'Reply All' spam, and is usually enough to warn people about emailing inane things to the entire company.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 4:29

If this is a small organization speak to the person directly and inform her that company email should be reserved for company business only.

In a larger organization you may be able to go up the chain too, if she initially does not respond.


How about setting up a separate distribution list that people can then add themselves to if they're interested in that sort of thing?

Selling it to her shouldn't be too hard, as it's very little work for her. (Just using a different address)

I'm not sure how much trouble setting up & maintaining a distribution list is, but I'm guessing management doesn't especially like the misuse of their list too much, so they should be on your side.

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