I need advice on the courteousness when replying to an email who's sender has replied only to you.

Here's the scenario:

  • Email chain with various recipients and a few CCs.
  • One member emails me directly (no CCs) but this is still a reply to the chain.
  • However, my response has questions that relate to everyone previously CC'ed

Is it rude to CC all original recipients thus exposing the direct email, especially if the emailer is a superior? Is there a good way to find out if this is considered rude?

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    Depends on the nature of the mail, the exchange, the parties involved and their cultures. There is no one answer. – Lilienthal Jul 19 '16 at 12:56
  • @Lilienthal Thanks. For a corporate and highly regulated industry, my firm is more on the relaxed side. The emailer (director) is a pretty easy going guy, that being said I don't take advantage of that but it's always interesting to hear input. – Fueled By Coffee Jul 19 '16 at 12:59
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    Was the single-reply email intended for just you, or was it a case of accidentally hitting reply instead of reply-all? – David K Jul 19 '16 at 13:07
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    I made an edit to make this a bit more on topic, as @Lilienthal says there's really not any way to answer your specific case but it can be generalized and answered (I think at least). – enderland Jul 19 '16 at 13:15

Some people do not often use reply-all when they should. My experience is this is common when people reply to emails from mobile devices, which normally have a default setting (either reply-all or direct reply).

I normally just re-add people in this situation, unless it's not clear if the individual email was meant for me specifically.

The context of each email unfortunately will dictate whether it was or not.

What I would recommend here is mentioning it to your boss casually sometime and asking if they find it rude. You could reply-all by adding people, then ask them in the future, "Hey, kind of random question - a few days/weeks ago, you had replied directly to me in a reply-all chain. I re-added people since my reply seemed relevant to them but was thinking afterwards this might seem rude, what are your thoughts?" or something similar.

You say your firm is "more on the relaxed side" which suggests this to be a quick, "nah, no problems" type of answer from your boss. But hearing your boss say this instead of random internet people would probably give you a lot more peace about the situation.

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    +1 This is critical: "The context of each email unfortunately will dictate whether it was or not." – R Star Jul 19 '16 at 16:07

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