Biz & Books review: 'Kill Reply All' reminds businesspeople to do better

Hit “send.” That's what you did when the boss dispatched an email. You replied honestly, hit “send,” and now the guy down the hall is mad, six people are looking at you funny, and they're gossiping about you downstairs.

You're not sure what happened, but read “Kill Reply All” by Victoria Turk. Maybe your message sent the wrong message.

Coat off, computer on, coffee poured, and what's the next thing you do when you get to work? If you're like most, you check your email, deal with the messages, check again, deal with the messages, check again, in fact, studies show that the average person checks work emails nearly eighty times a day. And as the emails pile up, despite that we say we're not bothered by the glut of them, we really are.

Email, says Turk, is not an optimal way to communicate. It's efficient, but stressful; better than some methods and lacking, compared to others. Rather than grind your teeth over it, try Turk's method of “Inbox Zero,” if you dare; also remember that there are times when a reply to an email simply isn't warranted.

Learn to email like a CEO (unless you're in sales); know your options (including old-school methods); practice compassion for your co-workers by using the “bcc”; don't “reply all”; and never, ever leave a voicemail.

As for informal communication, know how to avoid confusing your friends, how to use chat apps correctly, and learn why the inventor of the MUTE button should “be handed a Nobel Peace Prize.” And if you're thinking about creating a “work group” with a chat app, think again. Says Turk, that's not a good idea at all...

Your inbox is out of control. The v-mail on your cell phone is so full that nobody can leave messages anymore, and you just got a text from a colleague and it's mostly emoji. Isn't it time to read “Kill Reply All”?

Yes, it probably is if your business communicates primarily electronically these days, because author Victoria Turk makes sense of new rules to heed and faux pas to avoid, in mostly helpful, usable mini-chapters. Be aware, however, that some points may make certain readers rear back in horror; she is, for instance, not a fan of old-fashioned phone calls.

The good news is, nobody ever said you had to follow everything, right?

Likewise, nobody ever said you had to read everything, either, so feel free to skip around in this book if you want; the info on dating may be irrelevant, but amusing.

Do be sure to look over the chapter on friendship, though: there, Turk – who is somewhat the Miss Manners of C-Suites – offers tips on communicating with pals, progeny, and partners, and much of that instruction could easily extend to the office.

No more wrangling a bloated inbox. No more tangled message threads. No more angling for forgiveness on communication if you read “Kill Reply All.” For every businessperson who wants to do right and do better, this book will be a hit.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is the reviewer behind “The Bookworm Sez,” a self-syndicated book review column published in more than 260 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. She can be reached for feedback, ideas and links to reviews of books on a broad range topics at


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