Have you found yourself involved in an e-tattling situation? E-tattling is where one coworker emails another coworker with a request. When that request does not receive a response fast enough, is declined, or challenged, that’s when the e-tattling begins.
The requester proceeds to follow up with a demanding, sometimes hostile, or accusatory second request. But that’s not all…
They also Cc: a supervisor, manager, or any number of other coworkers that they think will step in and force the recipient, you, to comply with their request. This is an e-tattler.
The strategy is that by e-tattling, they are reporting to management, shaming or embarrassing the individual—all in the effort to get their way. Little do they know that this approach backfires the majority of the time.
Adults Do Not Behave this Way
These tactics rarely work. What an approach like this accomplishes is only to strain relationships even further.
Especially if this tactic is jumping the gun and the other party is not available, out of the office, homesick, or any other legit reasons, as to why a reply was not forthcoming.
So, how do you handle e-tattling at work?
Anyone who would resort to e-tattling (and apparently many do based on what is shared with me) makes their lack of professionalism apparent. In the workplace, teamwork and communication are key. When you earn the reputation of an e-tattler, how do you believe that will impact your career?
If you are on the receiving end of this type of behavior, you have no choice but to take the high ground. Know that most likely, it is the other person who will end up looking petty in the process.
A good guideline is to not resort to adding a bunch of additional contacts after a conversation is underway when you cannot deal with a difference of opinion, lack of response, or whatever has you upset.
Set an Example
You definitely do not want to do is stoop to their level by responding in kind. Leave them “out there” with these types of actions and let others come to their own conclusions about who behaved properly or not.
Meet with the e-tattler in person. Schedule an in-person meeting with those involved. You want to resolve the issue professionally, reflecting that you are a team player.
What do you do if you are contacted by any Cc’d contacts? Share your side of the situation in a calm and unemotional manner in an email with that one contact. No personal digs at the e-tattler — stick to the facts. Do not use “reply to all.”
Suppose you are the e-tattler; shame on you! It is understandable to be frustrated when someone doesn’t respond as you like. But Cc’ing managers, supervisors, or other coworkers for no reason other than to tattle is unacceptable in the workforce.
When you do not get the response you desire, pick up the phone or meet personally with the individual involved to try and resolve the issue. To begin Cc’ing (or worse yet BCc’ing) others with your comments or accusations will do nothing but expose your inability to communicate professionally. A skill that is increasingly critical to having a successful career.
For more on how to use email in business communications, I have an entire site that covers just that! BusinessEmailEtiquette.com.
Have a topic or question you would like to see me cover here on my blog? Let me know here!