MYTH : The email should have been sent directly to me; why have they copied It to others?
REALTY: They wanted to keep all in the loop; or they wanted to put pressure on the one it was intended for.
There are very few people who have mastered the art of using 0-mail effectively. During critical situations, most people struggle over choosing the addressee and to whom the e-mail should be copied. This confusion takes place more frequently in a heavily matrix organization.
it is somewhat easy to choose the To’ list: by default, one addresses the people who are in this list. There is another category called the ‘blind copy’ (BCC), where the recipients will not know who else has got the e-mail. This is used sparingly, to inform people who are not directly involved in that particular issue; so, here, there’s no expectation of a response. However, the ‘BCC’ should be avoided as Much as possible.
The major dilemma occurs when using the ‘CC’ list, The simple reason for using ‘CC’ is to inform the relevant people of the issue being discussed and of the actions taken. It is expected that if the recipients want to comment or provide any more data point, then they can do it. Another reason for using this list is that, when the sender is not sure whether a person in the ‘To’ list has the full information, and so, he expects those copied in to provide this information or any other additional material. The sender cannot add those people in the ‘To’ list either because the protocol of the communication requires him to stick to this person, or an e-mail chain is taking place between these two people. It is improper to suddenly add others to the ‘To’ list. In a matrix organization, where the person is confused about the actual ownership of the issue, expanding the mailing list will ensure that the actual owner of the issue receives it.
Sometimes, the ‘CC’ list is chosen to ‘put pressure on the recipient. It could be as simple as trying to get a speedy response, or trying to obtain a reply with proper justification about the root cause of n issue. This can trigger an internal discussion and might put the recipient in a spot if any fault: lies with him. Such pressure can be exerted not only by sending such an e-mail to the manager or someone senior, but also ‘co a subordinate. In some circumstances, the pressure built on the person might be accidental and not intentional.
Improper use of the ‘CC’ option can cause frustration and sour a relationship if the recipient questions the intention of the sender in escalating the issue prematurely while he is on the job. It is better for the recipient to dispel this feeling quickly by speaking to the sender so as to understand the issue, and also to provide the recipient’s own perspective. The response to such e-mails should be mature and backed by relevant information; jumping to conclusions without due diligence will only
weaken the case. If the sender is at fault, it is better for him to admit it and provide suggestions to resolve the matter. It might also happen that the recipient himself does not have the full picture and heist not solely at fault, so he could use this e-mail to get help from his Manager as well as from other stakeholders.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? It is notoriously difficult to communicate emotions through an e-mail; any e-mail to a broad list should be factual and intended to communicate information, not to air grievances or concerns. If an exchange of e-mails does not help achieve a common understanding, it is better for you to set up a conference call or a one-on-one voice conversation to resolve the issue amicably.