Forwarding e-mail is a source of contention. I receive inquiries from mothers, daughters, fathers and sons, friends and associates about how to “nicely” ask someone they know, like or love (possibly you) to please stop forwarding e-mails they didn’t ask for or are not interested in.
Unfortunately, there is no nice way.
No matter how nice, how kind, how thoughtful you may be in asking someone to stop forwarding these “forward to everyone you know” e-mails, the forwarder will feign hurt feelings. Worse case they’ll get downright belligerent in the belief that they can do what they want. Why don’t you appreciate that they are including you in these important mailings?
Hence, this article.
If you are an onliner who finds yourself in this dilemma you can share this article with those habitual forwarders in your life. Just click any of the icons on the left margin of this page share or to send a link to this article to someone you know who forwards everything under the sun and/or refuses to stop.
The problem isn’t really the forwards. Many times it is how they are forwarded. Although the forwarders think they are being thoughtful, in fact they are being proportionality the opposite because they are not forwarding properly. See my article 5 Rules for Forwarding Emails for further details.
If you want to be truly thoughtful, all you have to do is stop and think of the person on the other side. Not just forward any e-mails that you want or what will make you feel important at that moment in time.
The three critical e-mail forwarding issues are…
- Forwarding to everyone in your address book. You can bet that everyone will not be interested in the topic of that email. So you need to take the time to choose who you forward to because you know they will be interested.
- Not including a personal comment to the person the email is being forwarded to. Now, that certainly isn’t very thoughtful is it? If you cannot type a brief comment to the specific person you are forwarding to about why you are forwarding them that specific email, then don’t forward it at all.
- Forwarding jokes and non-business related e-mails to another person’s business email address isn’t appropriate. These type of e-mail should only be forwarded to personal addresses still taking into consideration number one and two above.
A Special Note to Habitual Forwarders
To all the thoughtless or naive uncontrollable forwarders out there, if you get asked by someone to not forward future e-mails, kindly respect their request. Do not choose to have hurt feelings. Certainly don’t act like you have a right to disregard someone’s legitimate desire to not get e-mails they have no interest in receiving. And didn’t ask for.
Know that those who make these requests still want to hear from you. They just may not have the time or interest in forwards about silly, political, “informational” or humorous topics. Isn’t that their choice to make? A good rule of thumb is that if an e-mail says “forward to everyone you know, all your friends or everyone in your address book” it is best you just hit Delete.
If you are sending unasked for forwards to everyone on your list, without comment, maybe you should be more genuinely thoughtful. Why not be more selective about what you forward and to whom? Think about if that person would really appreciate the information and include a little note to that effect in the forward. If it’s not worth taking the time to do that much, have the humility to not get upset when you are asked to stop.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
~ C. S. Lewis