Carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) e-mail features are frequently misused and misunderstood. Generally, the purpose of copying someone on a message is to keep them abreast of relevant information that is not directly addressed to them, but somehow involves them. Copying someone should be well thought out and intentional, as unnecessary copying clutters inboxes and can frustrate the recipient.
The CC feature is most useful in collaborative situations where folks need to provide input to all members of the group, and in cases where someone asks directly to be copied. However there are many cases in which it is best to forward a message with a short note of explanation versus using CC. While it may be easier on you to simply copy someone on a message, they may not know why they were included or what action they need to take. By forwarding you can explain these things and avoid causing undue confusion. Although it may be more work for you, it will mean less work for the person copied, which is something they will (hopefully) appreciate.
The BCC feature should be used even more carefully than CC. It can be a very valuable tool to protect privacy, but can also be used manipulatively. It’s generally advisable to be honest and up-front about who is reading the message when the recipients all know each other. For instance, BCCing the recipient’s supervisor on a message that could potentially cause trouble for them reflects poorly on the sender. If it were deemed appropriate for the supervisor to be copied, a CC would be more appropriate in this scenario.
Blind copies are generally reserved for matters of privacy. For example, say you are sending an e-mail to folks from different social and professional circles to update them on an aspect of your life. If it’s not necessary for the recipients to be in touch with each other, then it is best to keep their e-mail addresses private out of courtesy to the folks who are not comfortable sharing that information with people they’ve not personally met.
We hope that this tip helps you gain a proper handle on these features and provides a smoother electronic communication experience for you and your colleagues.