Few conversational topics in the workplace are more emotive than the use of the ‘CC’ or ‘carbon copy’ function when sending and receiving professional emails. Who would think that the clicking of one or more items in an electronic address book could cause such consternation? Originally designed to improve the flow of information, CCing has become so commonplace that many of us probably receive more emails in copy than we do as the main recipient. Go into any office on any day and you may well overhear discussion of how ‘CC’ing the ‘wrong’ people into an email has caused an assortment of negative responses. So before you do the deed yourself think about the reactions you may be causing. You might be able to select from the non-exhaustive list below.
- “Why have you copied me into an email to someone else telling them that I will be completing a task for them today? You know I normally do this willingly for you but please ask me first. How discourteous!”
- “Why have you copied me into this email to other colleagues? It’s not clear if you need me to do something or are you just letting me know that you asked the others to do these tasks? How confusing!”
- “Why have you copied me into a scolding email you have sent to one of my direct reports? Sort it out yourselves like adults or if you need me to deal with it come and talk to me. How irritating!”
- “Why have you copied me into a communication that we agreed we would put on hold? Could you not have discussed this with me first? How infuriating!”
- “Have you copied me into this email to try and get a pat on the back? I know you are keen to prove yourself but I really don’t need to be in copy every time you let the finance department know that you have made another sale. How tedious!”
- “Should I have read that email? I must have deleted the last 20 or so emails where you have put me in copy for no apparent reason and so I did the same for that last one. Was it important? How surprising!”
When used sparingly and appropriately, the CC function can serve a very useful purpose in sharing information. However, it should not be used as short cut for real communication. Good professional relationships are crucial to the success or failure of most business initiatives and endeavours so it is advisable to tread sensitively when using email professionally. It is always worth our while to make sure we keep the people we need or may need in the future on our side.
Those who struggle with the minefield that is email communication can find a myriad of resources, professional email writing training coursesand other interventions to make sure they get the best from this business tool and avoid making costly mistakes.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2012