Today we are going to talk about Email etiquette.
We are not going to discuss how typing in all caps equals shouting, the forward of a forward of a forward chain or the dreaded “BCC”, although that last one might be good for another post in the future.
Instead – we are going to talk about the often misunderstood – “CC”, or Carbon Copy.
Dating back to Cavemen (a tongue-in-cheek exaggeration) a carbon copy was the under-copy of a document created when carbon paper was placed between the original and the under-copy during the production of a document.
With the advent of email, came the abbreviation “CC”and the aforementioned “BCC” (blind carbon copy) which refer to simultaneously sending copies of an electronic message to secondary recipients.
In email, the abbreviation “CC” indicates those who are to receive a copy of a message addressed primarily to another. The list of “CCed” recipients is visible to all other recipients of the message. An additional “BCC” field is available for hidden notification; ie – recipients listed in the BCC field receive a copy of the message, but are not shown on any other recipient’s copy (including other BCC recipients). It is considered good practice to indicate to the other recipients that a new participant has been added to the list of receivers (e.g. by writing “I have “CCed” JPlace23”).
Typically, the “To” field recipients are the primary audience of the message, “CC” field recipients are others whom the author wishes to publicly inform of the message, and “BCC” field recipients are those surreptitiously being informed of the communication
Now comes the fun part. How many times have you been “CCed” on an email, you’ve read it and noted its content, are are later chastised for either not responding or following up? I’m sure we all have, and to be quite frank – this is wrong (feel free to send the original sender a link to this Blog). Messages like that are counterproductive and vague. There is no clear ownership of the message or definitive action items for all involved. Instead, the ambiguity created leads to delays and frustration – not to mention who is to action things in the future.
Another pet peeve of mine is when people “CC” others who are not involved in a conversation, or in order to cover their posterior. Again, this is one of those that causes frustration – as more often than not, the additional parties do not have a complete view of the situation or are brought in to bolster a specific argument…one that for some reason they were initially left out. If you get into one of those situations where you start to bring in “Virtual Muscle” to a conversation, do me a favor and stop – pick up the phone and have a conversation or hold a meeting. It will be more productive and again we can back to the regularly scheduled program.
Of course, if you are “CCed”, The website Netmanners.com (who knew there was an Email Etiquette Blog?) provides a great rule of thumb for what to do –
When you are “CCed”, respond only if you have commentary that you know is necessary to the ongoing conversation or topic. Also, be sure to take the time to check who else is in the To: and Cc: field. Only keep those addresses, if any, that are part of the ongoing conversation . Be sure to trim the unnecessary e-mail addresses out before hitting Send.
If everyone follows this simple rule, plus a lot of common sense, we can all focus on getting our work done and not be so de-motivated or confused by emails with set directive.
Finally – Since I mentioned them…for you listening pleasure: