Using CC in email conversations


A lot of people get carried away with the CC feature when sending emails, seemingly including everyone from their boss to their coworkers to last year’s summer interns. Usually, the idea is to prevent anyone from saying they weren’t kept in the loop. But the result is that you end up generating a ton of extra emails that waste people’s time and energy.

We could probably all benefit from using a little more restraint with the CC feature. That’s obvious. But what happens when you receive a message that already has a laundry list of people in the CC field? From what I’ve seen, people are pretty inconsistent in how they handle this. Sometimes they’ll reply to the whole list, but other times they only include the sender. And this selection appears haphazard, since the same person can waver from one behavior to the next in the same email thread.

I propose a simple rule of thumb to make things easier. The next time you get an email where a bunch of people are CC’d, check whether the message contains a question. If there’s a question involved, and you’re replying with the answer, then it makes sense to CC the original list by using the Reply All option. But if there’s no question to begin with, or you’re not providing an answer in your reply, it’s fine to get rid of the CC crowd and reply to the sender alone. Sure, this approach isn’t perfect, but it’s an effective way to keep groups in the loop precisely when they’re expecting to see an answer — while eliminating a lot of the extraneous banter that clogs up people’s inboxes.

2 Responses to “Using CC in email conversations”

  1. Hi Team Taskmaster. Nice job rounding up a bunch of handy email tips. Companies should make that sort of article required reading for new hires.

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