Put an end to email CC abuse

Unwanted “CC-ed” e-mail messages leave many businesspeople each day scratching their heads and wondering “Why did I receive this?” and “What am I supposed to do with this?” You may not be able to completely stop the flood of CCs. But you can stem the tide with these tactics:

  • Talk to the people who CC you. Each time you receive a CC that you were not expecting or do not understand, let the sender know. If the sender has a good reason for sending it to you, ask the person to make the reason more explicit the next time.
  • Develop a CC policy. Discuss guidelines to improve the CC situation across your group or organization. Many people genuinely believe that they need to CC others; an open conversation will set them straight.

Start with these reasonable CC guidelines. Send a CC only if the recipients:

  •  Will know why they are receiving the e-mail. If you have not mentioned a person by name in the body of the message, he or she may be only peripherally involved. Send a separate message to apprise that person of progress.
  •  Do not need to reply. Recipients often do not know what to do when they read a CC message. Their uncertainty often unleashes a torrent of acknowledgement messages, sent to everyone on the original recipient list.

— Adapted from “A Strict Policy on CC-ing Can Prevent Unwanted E-Mail,” Leslie O’Flahavan, Writing Matters, http://writingmatters.typepad.com.

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