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Expectations When Cc:’d

Email Etiquette and Using CC (Courtesy Copy)

Three questions that are asked about the Cc: (Courtesy Copy) feature of emails:

  • Who should you Cc: on an email?
  • What should you expect from those you Cc: on an email?
  • When you are Cc:’d on a email, what are you required to do?

When you Cc: folks, you are basically F.Y.I.ing them. Cc:’ing is a way of informing others on a topic or issue that they need to be aware of and that may need their attention or action.

If you are the one who is Cc:’d, it is not mandatory that you provide a response. You are only expected to respond when you have something to add or inform the Sender that is important to the topic at hand.

Do Not Reply to All

Notice I typed inform the Sender? Being Cc:’d does not mean you automatically hit Reply to All with your reply. In most cases you only need to reply to the Sender who Cc:’d you.

Many feel the need to confirm that they’ve received the communication, however, that is not required. What many folks do is Reply to All with a one word response like “noted” or “okay”. For this type of response you only need to reply to the Sender.

When do you use Reply to All? When your response directly affects the others in the Cc: field. You are confident that it is necessary that they be aware of your response.

Replying to everyone who is Cc:’d will cause unnecessary emails that in most cases do not apply to “all”. By being selective when generating additional email activity we avoid contributing to more irrelevant email volume. This reflects that you are an organized and efficient communicator.

Reply to All is the exception — not the rule.

CYA Backfires

Using the Cc: field as a way to CYA or to make points that are best made in person is never prudent. In most cases you’ll end up looking trivial if you do.

When you are noted in the Cc: field, only rely if you are contributing valuable “need to know” information to the conversation. Going off topic, or adding comments that are not relevant to those involved only serves to negatively reflect on you.

Discretion and the Bottom Line…

Cc:’ing, just as with all the other topics we discuss, requires your discretion to know what is best to do in any given situation. Take the time to review if those you Cc: really need the information contained within.

And when you are the person who is Cc:’d, before replying, review the Cc: field. Down-edit to only those that your reply will apply to before hitting Reply to All.

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