The one thing you do in your email that makes you unpopular

By Mel Sim

Colleagues may just blank you if you continuing doing it...

Emails are used for a lot of things – to ask a quick question, to inform someone of something, to update your boss on the status of a certain project, and even to plan a Friday-night outing with your colleagues.

For some emails, CC-ing your boss is absolutely necessary. But then there are the informal emails (like asking for clarification on something not so important or arranging a time with a colleague for a quick meeting to touch base on a project) where your boss really does not need to be included. So when you CC your boss in those emails, well – it can make you quite unpopular at work.

Even science backs this up! Research by David De Cremer (a professor of management studies at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School) that was published in Harvard Business Review has found that one of the worst things you can do when it comes to email etiquette is CC your boss. Why? Because it creates a “culture of fear and low psychological safety” amongst your colleagues, according to the research.

Wait, what?

That’s right – the research states that when you CC your boss in every email, your colleagues immediately trust you less. This is because they feel that you are in a way “reporting” to your boss on every single thing that happens at work or even just trying to save yourself in case anything goes wrong (which it shouldn’t if it is something as simple as scheduling an informal meeting!).

It’s like being a tattletale. Including your boss in the email means you want your boss to know what’s happening between you and your colleague, especially if it is a situation that isn’t going your way. Not only is it downright annoying (and rude), it also makes it seem like you’re trying to be the boss’s pet. Which is not a good impression you want to give your colleagues.

It also makes it seem that you are purposely including your boss in the email thread because you think your colleague won’t follow through what you’re asking for unless the boss is involved. Even if your intentions are innocent, oops....

At the same time, the research also states that when the boss is CC-ed often in emails, employees also feel less trusting of the company altogether as it seems like management does not trust whatever its employees are doing and is creating this culture of fear.

So the next time you want to CC your boss, think twice. Ask yourself this question: Does your boss really need to be kept in your loop or is this something you can settle between you and your colleague without getting management involved? Plus, did your boss ask to be included in the email? If the answers are no, then you’re better off leaving your boss out of the email so that you don’t create the wrong impression that may result in unnecessary animosity.

While we are on the topic of emails, read up on the 10 rules of email etiquette here.

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

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