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I just got this response from someone on an email thread.

Hi Guys,

As a request – can you optimize email communications with the business? Do reach out when you are in need of key details or information, but try not to copy them on internal comms that do not require their input and are not critical.

Keep me apprised – I can act as a filter.

My guess is that the director on the email thread complained that he was getting emails that he didn't need to.

How should I respond to this sort of email?

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    The email references "the business" and "them". Is this a separate company, possibly a customer or contractor? – David K Feb 10 '17 at 18:11
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    So what answer beyond "Ask the guy who sent you the email for details." are you looking for? There's no hidden message in this mail if that's what you're looking for. – Lilienthal Feb 10 '17 at 19:13
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    This is why email stinks as a collaboration tool. It used to be the only choice, but the amount of Wiki platforms, Slack, etc., available these days changes that. The "annoyance" is trying to use the wrong tool. Yes, you can use a shovel as an oar in a rowboat, but it's far from optimal. – Wesley Long Feb 10 '17 at 20:36
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    This is a common problem, and the writer of this email is attempting to improve the situation a bit. Working out who should be in the To and Cc field in emails can be tricky, and is easy to get wrong - especially when people indiscriminately hit Reply All and don't edit the recipient lists. The opposite problem also occurs - forgetting to include a stakeholder in an important email can have consequences as well. You learn as you go and try your best. – Jeffrey Kemp Feb 11 '17 at 1:49
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    @DavidK In IT, we generally refer to internal clients as "the business" - so your factories, accounting, all the people you make stupid webapps for, etc, they're "the business" – corsiKa Feb 11 '17 at 8:45
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Since the response was addressed to "guys", it probably warrants no response at all -- so don't take it personally. It's not as if you can tell the director, "no, I'm not gonna do as you requested." That person is simply trying to limit the need to read through extraneous e-mail.

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I would not respond to that email.

I would suggest that you not send any emails that are not critical to this person ( and that your are 100% sure the director needs ). Use your direct manager where applicable and let this person reach out to the director when necessary.

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    Responding to the email would still be respecting the director. It wasn't the director who sent it because he said "I can act as a filter". As long as he doesn't do something stupid and hit reply all. Having said that, a reply would be unnecessary regardless. – Chris E Feb 10 '17 at 19:30
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    It is not at all clear who you mean in your uses of "this person". Are you suggesting not to send emails to the person that sent this to the OP ? If so that advice directly contradicts what is requested in the email itself. (to keep them appraised.) – Mr.Mindor Feb 10 '17 at 23:02
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This email doesn't need a reply.

You should simply follow the advice in the email.

The email is implying that "they" (probably some customer) were cc'ed on too many emails. Possibly these were emails related to the customer e.g. technical details regarding their project, but not really important to them.

They don't want to receive those emails because it's a cost for them. They have to either thoroughly read through emails which are not important or they will learn to ignore them and risk missing some important detail in one of them.

So it's a reasonable expectation that they only get emails which are essential, i.e. contain either important information or require a reply from them.

The person who wrote an email to you claims that she/he has a good judgement which email is or isn't essential for this customer and is offering his help if you'd have doubts in the future.

NOTE: It's possible that the emails haven't upset anyone yet and the person who wrote you the email is trying to reduce email tsunami before it becomes a problem.

  • Also, if indeed a customer was involved, it looks unprofessional to copy them on internal discussions. They should be informed of the final conclusion, rather than being aired "dirty laundry". – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 11 '17 at 1:05
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How should I respond to this sort of email?

You respond by no longer copying people who don't need to be in the email thread.

And if you aren't sure, you ask the person who volunteered to be the "filter".

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I really hope you are not considering actually responding to the email.

Pretty clear. Unless you are looking for specific information from them then leave them off. They don't want to know about your work process.

Another problem is cc or bcc because someone else did. There may be like a task list of summary type email and then everyone thinks they should cc their status on an item. They don't care about your internal work process.

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"Respond" by doing as you were instructed.

There is value in ensuring that the relevant people are copied in on emails. There is anti-value in copying everybody you can think of for no reason. Apparently you have been doing this.

Simply do as you were asked, and stop copying everyone on all emails. Let your supervisor escalate issues to director-level as he or she deems appropriate.

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