An issue escalated, and I took the time to email each of the 3 parties individually, with their own unique email that pertained particularly to him/her.
Because I care.
Too often we think that including everyone on an email thread will make us seem helpful and informational. Unfortunately, your readers don't see it that way. While everybody likes a good mystery, business owners don't want to read through a 5 email chain to decipher why they got one, too.
Reasons you may have gotten that email:
1) The sender wanted to tattle, and thought Showing was better than Telling
2) The sender was attempting to be efficient
3) The sender simply doesn't have the technical skills to send you a pertinent attachment without the extra fluff
4) The sender feels powerless, but found the mighty Reply-All button
5) The sender is preparing to go to court (with you), and this email chain is about to make its way into evidence (sorry Judge!!!)
None of these are good signs!
How to de-escalate and communicate the issue efficiently:
1) Step away from the issue for a minute (hour or even a day). Take a deep breath. If you're panicked, you'll do something crazy.
2) Have the facts clear in your head (just the facts; not those pesky opinions)
3) Send a clear and concise email to each party. If you gotta "show" the facts, copy and paste the relevant portion of the email and explain:
"I was confused about the direction to take, because of Bob's email:
Bob said: I love unicorns!!!!!"
4) Give a resolution in each email, pertaining to each party:
Sally, let's go forward with moving the project deadline to the 30th!
Bob, let's talk by phone tomorrow at 3pm to figure out the unicorns!
Pat, we are handling the project and will notify you when we're ready for the rainbows!
5) Don't be afraid to pick up the phone! Sometimes we can get on the same page faster with a phone call.
Many business owners receive hundreds of emails a day (and I'm not talking about spam). These are real emails that require a response or an action. Forcing people to read through all of YOUR mail, too, is disrespectful and inefficient. If your organization requires ALL parties to read ALL emails, you won't be able to grow. If it is absolutely necessary to share all emails, change up your process. Instead of replying-all, just get together and play "office" in the same room together. Designate a reader, and when an email arrives, the reader can go ahead and share the details in real time! As a group, you can collectively reply. Your email address can simply be: firstname.lastname@example.org