CC-ing (so named from when we used actual carbon paper to make a copy of a letter or memo) can be a slippery slope. Back when we dealt with real carbon paper, it wasn’t as convenient to include the entire universe in our business. But with the advent of email, it’s all too easy to abuse what used to be a fairly straightforward practice.
The major reasons we usually CC someone are:
- We believe they need to be at least aware of the issue in question, but they are not being directly addressed for information or advice.
- They are our supervisor and have requested that we CC them on everything (I hope that’s not your supervisor!)
- We want to impress/amuse/warn/influence someone who is not directly involved in the issue. Note: this is often the case with the “BCC.”
- We are lazy and hit “Reply All” on every email. (Eek! Stop that!)
- We feel that erring on the side of inclusion is the best policy.
- Why not???…
As with most things administrative, the art of CCing is not rocket science, but it does have its nuances. There is only one fundamental question to ask before you hit “SEND.” Does this person need to be included in this conversation? The question is simple, but the answer may not be. For instance, there are times when it’s prudent to include someone because of their relationship to others in the conversation, to solicit “buy-in,” or just out of respect for their position. But for the most part, try considering each email thread as if it were a conversation or a face-to-face meeting. Because it is. Most meetings include decision makers and those responsible for execution. That’s it! All too often we waste time opening and scanning messages we didn’t need to be copied on, or chasing down information about issues that we should have been copied on.
In fact, the only case in which it’s best to err on the side of inclusion is when it comes to assistants. Even though many assistants have access to their bosses’ email inboxes, it’s still common courtesy (and more efficient) to keep us in the loop from the outset. For one thing, we’re usually more accessible than our supervisors and can often either answer your question or prod our supervisors to do so. And for another thing, we can get a little grumpy if our boss asks us about something of which we have no knowledge because we weren’t CC’d!
So, to recap – emails are conversations, not pep rallies, and it’s the EA who does the “doing” most of the time – make our lives easier by keeping us in the know!