Some time ago I wrote a post on having difficult conversations by email. In it I cautioned about use of the “tweaking CC and I want to repeat that caution for newer readers of this blog.
The tweaking CC is the copying of an email message to someone the sender believes has power over or influence on the recipient. When in the middle of a difficult conversation or negotiation that’s unfolding by email, it’s tempting (and probably all too common practice) to CC a supervisor or colleague—or worse, a large chunk of the workplace community. We may tell ourselves we’re doing it as an “FYI” or for our own protection. The recipient, however, is likely to interpret it as involving an extra person as a way to strong-arm, rattle, or inform on. The tweaking CC raises defensiveness and can escalate the conflict. A tweaking BCC (blind carbon copy) is no better.
Next time you find yourself having a workplace difficult conversation by email, and you’re tempted to CC a boss or team members, stop for a moment. How critical is it that the third person be involved right then? Will the benefits outweigh the potential for escalation? What are you really trying to accomplish with that CC?