Who Do You Carbon Copy

If you don’t know who you are supposed to put in Carbon Copy, the easiest is to place there everyone who has something to do with that message, either directly or not, along with all their relatives. Not really everyone, save some for the blind copy, a.k.a. BCC.

who do you carbon copy

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Imagine that someone calls you over to the meeting room for a not so important topic, but it seems a good idea to get you there. In the meeting room there are two persons discussing something and they don’t even notice you are there – they share a common interest in a cup final disputed among some cup finalists. You sit there and have no idea what they talk about, as you don’t turn on the TV and the game was not broadcasted on Netflix. When you simply cannot handle the whole thing with a goalkeeper who so loosely let someone cross the line twice – you ask why they called you.

They start a not so convincing explanation about a football game and that poor excuse of a goalkeeper better stayed in the F division; than they simply let you know that it was not mandatory to be directly involved, they just thought you might be interested in the subject and you were placed in the CC of their conversation. By the time you get back to reality, the room is filled with people, and some are even trying to pitch over the fence. Sounds familiar?

For a full picture, imagine that you were told to go in the next room and find a glass to listen against the wall the whole discussion. Well, this means you were merely a BCC.

Getting back to CC, the full name is Carbon Copy because in the old days, when there were no computers (yeah, believe it or not there were such times), communication was achieved by the use of letters. In those days there was also this lady called a typist – the grand-grandmother of today’s Assistant manager –  and she was typing (literally) different memos using a typewriter. If she needed to send the message to more than one person, she used a carbon paper that printed the typing on several sheets.

What to CC:

  • Emails that need to be read by other persons, but those persons should not act upon them. Generally speaking, the wish to inform others is a lot overrated. However, if administration decided to move the fridge from the second floor to HQ, I wouldn’t choose to put the whole team in a CC – just ‘cause everyone ought to know about it. Maybe they will use that fridge sometime. Maybe not;
  • If someone asked precisely to be placed in a CC, even if it’s sounds a little odd. If we are talking about the type of manager who needs to be added in CC of all the emails, perhaps he/she is not the best manager for you. You can either choose to change the manager or subscribe him/her to a lot of daily newsletters. It may also turn out that you should look for a job, if this request pops out of the blue;
  • A positive message, one that is meant to motivate someone in particular. The more ‘heavy’ recipients of such an email, the merrier.

What not to CC:

  • Those messages where you denounce others for not doing their job. Even if you have the victim’s boss in CC, doesn’t actually mean that the problem is solved. It may help, but don’t encourage the practice;
  • Don’t use email as a possible threat;
  • Don’t use email to prevent something from happening: “Bo$$, I explained him/her using the Cover My Ass procedure. He/she didn’t do their part, stop asking me when it’s done.”
  • For any (brain) fart you pull. If you really need to draw the attention of your boss, you can send an email at the end of each week with this topic “Bo$$, here’s what happened this week and you should thank me for not placing you in CC at 248 emails!”
  • Don’t CC colleagues you know from the start are not going to actively get involved to an endless message exchange; rather draw one email at the end of the game: “Guys, long story short, this is what happened, this is what we did, that was the outcome. If you have any questions call me on my office phone, if there is any.”

What to BCC:

  • Nothing. There is a greater chance that all the BCCs reply to all the CCs and you end up getting all smothered in something not so pretty as reference to your character. If you really need to pass the information forward, do it with an honest For Your Information, it’s much healthier;
  • So we don’t end up with ‘nothing’ here, you can also use the BCC when you send the email to a lot of persons, for example an email on the subject “One time offer, just for you”; you can’t put all 400 recipients as TO or CC.

The importance of a message where you are placed in CC is, or at least should be, less dramatic ‘cause it’s not addressing you directly.

I use the rule of having all these message delivered to a separate folder, not my inbox, and I choose to open that folder twice a day tops. I have to be completely honest when I confess that no catastrophe occurred over the years, since I started doing this. Also, I am not wasting as much time doing this job of lecturing other people’s emails.

Last, scientists all over the world discovered that the second place after spam was claimed by emails from within the organization. The more you email and the more you CC, the more you will get back.

Good luck un-CC-ing!

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