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#527: Rethink Email Addressing Categories

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Where a person is addressed in your e-mail (direct send, "CC" [or carbon copy] or "BCC" [or blind carbon copy]) can make a huge difference on how your message is received and processed.

In today's instant delivery of information, the use of addressing categories of "CC" and "BCC" can be double edged swords. Both save you the effort of composing multiple individual emails for every intended recipient. BCC actually helps you to work around some of the issues that can arise when using the "CC" (privacy, discreteness, elimination of a large number of addresses at the head of the email's body, etc.).

However, have you ever thought closely about how the recipient views their placement in the address categories? How does Laura view being "CC'ed" versus directly addressed? Does she pay less attention to the message, feel less important, or is she just happy to receive the information? Was this your intent? What do you expect her to do with this information if she adheres to the convention of being addressed as CC implies you do not expect a reply.

What about Terry's placement on the "BCC" list? Is he being given access to information that others would not feel is appropriate, or has he been placed there because the sender does not want his name to appear to the other addressees? Think about what would occur if the addressees in the "Send to:", "CC" and "BCC" categories were interchanged. Perhaps it will provide you with a new perspective on how and when to use these categories.

Tip: Consider the order people in which addressees are listed. Even if you don't care, your recipients may consider the address order as hierarchial. Take a moment to think how each recipient will view their selected placement. Always be sensitive to others and be careful not to unintentionally slight someone through careless ordering.

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  communication  confidentiality 

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