the cc line is the most passive-aggressive email field

If you’ve ever opened an email at work and found a colleague has inexplicably cc’d your boss on a message to you about a minor concern, you likely know the irritation this tiny electronic bomb can cause: Does your coworker not trust you to resolve the issue without your boss’s scrutiny? Is the presence of your boss in the cc field intended to imply you’ve been negligent on the matter in the past? Why for the love of God is your manager being dragged into what should be a routine interaction easily handled between two colleagues?

At Slate today, I wrote about the abuse of the cc field — and how it sows chaos in our office lives. You can read it here.

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Ban the BCC*

    I think the BCC is the ultimate sneaky way to be a tattle tale. I have a colleague that refuses to communicate directly with me but with BCC my boss-not hers, on every email.

    1. SarahKay*

      That’s pretty mean of your colleague!
      But BCC does have its (legitimate) uses. I like it when I’m emailing a large group with information since if I accidentally include people who didn’t need that info then there isn’t a hideous round of Reply-all “Please take me off this distribution list”, “Please don’t Reply-all”, ad nauseum.
      It’s also very useful for taking someone off an email chain they don’t need to be on but that I do want to know the matter is being dealt with.
      I guess, like many tools, there will always be people who will misuse it :(

      1. pleaset*

        We use BCC sometimes explicitly saying X, Y and Z are BCC’d so they’re aware of this issue but wont’ be included in follow-up discuss of details.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Ugh, Halloween was fun except for the email chains from every. single. one. of our 20+ branches sharing staff costume photos. Which would’ve been fine…except that nobody used BCC and so my inbox was totally flooded with “lol!” “cute!” “omg love it!”-type responses ALL. DAMN. DAY.

          Please, I’m begging you all, use BCC. That’s what it’s there for.

      2. ClashRunner*

        I agree. In a previous job, I frequently had to email groups of high-school students. BCC was a great way to communicate with everyone but not share a child’s email with my entire mailing list.

    2. LGC*

      The BCC can be used for good (when you need to send an all-staff email to a team that only knows how to use the reply all button like mine) or for evil (like in your case). It is a powerful tool, not to be used lightly.

      1. Mockingjay*

        We got a team email this morning asking for info, using BCC for delivery. The text specifically asked to NOT TO REPLY ALL.

        Of course somebody did.

        1. LGC*

          …so like, I’m missing something here, since I thought reply all was only To and CC, not BCC! So you’d put yourself (or the other important party) in “To” and then the all-staff in BCC. So either your reply-all works differently…or your office has a psychopath who added in the team manually to reply all.

          (It may be harsh to call them a psychopath, but it’s fair.)

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            No, you’re right. I expect that the email in question had all three types (to, cc, bcc).

            1. it's-a-me*

              Just to be sure, better put ALL of the names in ALL of the fields.

              I’m 100% sure someone has done this, somewhere. Actually, I’m 100% sure someone, somewhere uses this as their standard operating procedure.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Oh, that’s next-level evil. There are tons of rational and useful ways to use the BCC field, but not as a sneakier version of cc field abuse.

      1. FaithinCommentsRestored*

        Yeah, there’s nothing worse than bcc-ing someone as a way to give them a quiet heads-up on a potential issue, only to have them inadvertently bust you and reply to everyone. I no longer trust myself with the bcc field; I only forward sent messages.

        1. noahwynn*

          My former boss would do this on purpose, usually to point out the fact that someone was trying to be sneaky.

    4. Jellyfish*

      BCC is nice to avoid reply-alls and when I need to send info to lots of people outside my organization who don’t need to know the contact information of everyone else on the message.
      Using it as a sneaky, passive aggressive version of CC would make me irritated and paranoid! That’s not cool.

      1. Anonapots*

        I’ve used it to loop in HR on an email chain with my boss that included some work/health related things. Mostly because I’ve been burned by a former boss by not looping in HR and I wasn’t taking any chances. Literally the only time I’ve done that at work. I also tend to use CC very sparingly and mostly to loop in people who are tangentially related to something I’m emailing about, but don’t need to take any direct action on it.

    5. Annie Barrett*

      Once a peer of my boss BCC’d my boss when she e-mailed me with a request. I found out because my boss apparently thought she had been CC’d and responded with a comment to me and the peer. I had a chuckle thinking about the peer’s probable embarrassment and the fact that I now knew what she was and could act according in the future. Basically from then on, I CC’d my boss on any and every response to any and every e-mail from this peer – no matter how small.

    6. voyager1*

      I worked at a small bank that would disciplined folks for using BCC. It was just outright not used. We were told because it made terminations harder and possibly easier to bring a lawsuit against the bank.

    7. squeakalicious*

      I have a total douche of a coworker who is constantly, desperately in need of attention and praise. I am in my 50s and used to be a government freelancer/contractor, which means I’ve worked with thousands of people over the last few decades, and I have NEVER seen anyone smooch ass like this woman. She makes me cringe with embarrassment. One of the many ways she tries to desperately ingratiate herself to everyone in our department is to give handmade birthday cards. Birthdays are HUGE for Princess Douchey. She’s one of those dumbasses who will decorate your desk and buy the whole floor cupcakes. For the first year we worked together (she’s been at my office for about 18 months), she would send an excruciatingly personal e-mail to the birthday person (in addition to the hand-quilled card!) with all kinds of obsequious ass-kissing like “It’s such a joy to support your meetings!” and “may god bless you this day and always!” Now, if she wants to write this in a card and give it directly to the besmooched, fine. But she puts it all in an e-mail and BCC’s about forty people. BCC!!!!!! All because she wants everyone to see what a wonderful, kind birthday-rememberer she is. After a few months of this, I asked her to please remove me from the list because I felt very uncomfortable reading what seemed to me to be a personal message. Twenty seconds after I sent it, she replied (in all caps): FINE! I WON’T INCLUDE YOU IN ANYTHING GOING FORWARD!! because hey, she’s such a nice person. [snort] Douche.

    8. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I use BCC to send out mass emails to parents. I don’t want Fergusina’s parent to get a hold of the whole class’ emails to push their MLM. I also BCC my principal if I’m emailing a touchy parent with negative comments about Precious Angel. Those interactions can go south quickly and escalate even faster if PA’s parent knows the principal is in the loop and they can’t make an end run around me to complain about my vile email habits.

    9. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      That sounds like My Evil Coworker Skippy. Only she does cc, not bcc, and says things in emails to point out, Hey look, WPB screwed up, WPB doesn’t know how to do it right.

      It’s childish and passive aggressive, but also embarrassing. Who wants their mistakes aired to other teams? Do managers really condone this kind of crap? (Rhetorical question, as my manager does.)

  2. Arctic*

    It’s definitely infuriating when someone has cc’d your boss or someone on your team who is not involved with the matter.

    But it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world to open an important email and find you’ve only been cc’d. None of this work is for me!

    1. GG*

      “it’s the most wonderful feeling in the world to open an important email and find you’ve only been cc’d. None of this work is for me!”

      That only works if your coworkers understand the CC field, and use it sensibly. I was once CC’d on an email that made no sense to me. One of my coworkers appeared to be talking to my boss about a situation I knew nothing about. I figured Boss’ response might become relevant to my job/responsibilities, so I waited to see how the conversation developed. Nope. Turns out coworker was actually trying to email me, and buried in his jargon-infused email were some sentences in which I was supposed to read between the lines in order to infer his not-actually-asked question for me. When I asked why email was To: Boss, and CC:GG? Well, of course the email goes to boss, because he outranks me.

  3. Kitty Cathleen*

    We have a manager who insists on being CCd on every piece of correspondence my team sends to her team. So things like “Hey, can you reprint this fax for me?”, or “You only put down one set of llama grooming codes, but this looks like it requires three, can you please advise?” It makes me feel awful, because I know that particular manager is likely to blow up at her team over these things, no matter how minor (I’ve worked under her before), but if I don’t, I end up getting a talking-to from my boss. My boss also thinks it’s ridiculous, but it’s not her choice. So frustrating.

    1. AMT*

      Is there any way you can address emails with something like, “Hi, Bob (& cc’ing Jane, who has asked to be looped in on our correspondence with the Teapot Team): Can you fix the blah blah blah…”

      1. Kitty Cathleen*

        Oh, her team is all well aware that this is their manager’s decision and not everyone in my group being passive-aggressive, so at least there’s that. It just sucks to know someone is going to get taken to task because I needed clarification on a minor issue.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I worked for years with a director who ran her department this way, and, on the back end, none of her people were allowed to do their job without her OK. It led to horrible backlogs and missed deadlines (or even total failure to execute the most basic department functions) because no one could breathe without her say-so. After they finally fired her, the poor woman who came in afterward had to borderline do therapy with her new employees to get them to process basic requests without her intervention. At one point, she sent an organization-wide email basically saying (in much more professional terms), “I’m aware of prior convention, but please, for the love that is right and holy, stop copying me on every single email. There are smart, competent people here who will take care of you. Contact me if you don’t get what you need from them.”

      1. ellex42*

        At one company I worked in two different departments that often had to deal another department which was headed by a director like that. We called her “The Dragon Lady” behind her back, which was unkind, but she was so awful she actually made some of her reports cry. I once heard her berate the GM for okaying form letters without her say-so while she was on a week’s vacation – she actually expected all outgoing work to grind to a complete halt when she wasn’t there.

        The company was already spiraling the drain not long after I left, but I heard from those who stayed until the bitter end that when she was fired – yes, fired, not laid off – that many processes did come to a screeching halt because she’d made sure that no one knew how to do them but her.

      2. Kitty Cathleen*

        She’s not *quite* that bad, but close. The “borderline do therapy” bit feels familiar, after I worked under her my next manager was very clear that she does not operate like previous-manager. She’d also worked under previous-manager at one point, and I got the sense this was a conversation she had with anyone who moved from that team to my current one.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          A guy I’ve worked with for years looks like he’s about 10 years younger under the new director. I heard he actually cried when she told him he was smart, competent, and she didn’t need to okay 99% of what he did.

    3. Cafe au Lait*

      Yep, my department is very hierarchy based and I use cc for any email that goes outside of my department. I hate it.

    4. WalkedInMyShoes*

      I had a manager who insisted on this and when I asked him to respond, my manager could not find the email. So, I had to resend it. Waste of time, waste of energy. I also had a colleague who loved to cc my manager when I did not handle one tiny thing among the abundant responsibilities that I had. It was so annoying. Finally, at the end of my time at the company, I started cc’ing my manager’s boss, because this person was trying to pinpoint all the “overlooked tasks and emails” back to me. In the end, the big boss wanted me to forward all the emails that I forward to my manager so that he can follow-up and monitor my manager when I have left the company. In my next company, I am going to implement communication and conflict-resolution training so that time is not wasted on unnecessary emails.

    5. Prof*

      This is when I would pick up the phone or walk over to my colleague’s desk to tell/ask them in person. Why feed the manager material for unfair blow-ups?

      1. Kitty Cathleen*

        Unfortunately, I’m several floors down and on the opposite side of the building, so it’s not always that simple. It’s also been made very clear that the expectation is that these things will be in an email, to the point where people on her team will send a follow up email and copy her if we call! “Just confirming our conversation that you needed the additional llama grooming codes from the 07/13 report. I’ll have that to you ASAP, let me know if you need anything else.”, because if she overhears them answering questions like that she gets annoyed that people were trying to circumvent her request. It is exhausting.

        1. Marshmellin*

          I know it’s wildly unlikely that you are who I think you (and work where I think you work) and so therefore…..both there must be two of this person walking around.

          1. Big Bank*

            Three, because I have a colleague like this too and it’s absolutely bananacrackers how they micro manage experienced employees and berate others for “circumventing” talking to her when you just want to ask them a question.

    6. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      I’ve worked for a boss like this before. And she would explode if someone didn’t CC her and it was 10 times worse if we were the ones that forgot to CC her. And since she wanted to be CCd on everything, she’d make us CC other department’s bosses on everything. I hated it. And it worked to her disadvantage. People wanted to avoid having to drag in my boss and their boss into every little thing so they just started calling or waiting until she left and come talk to me. So instead of being completely in the loop, she now had people actively trying to keep her out of the loop.

  4. MI Dawn*

    I cc my boss (and often my grandboss) on a lot of my emails. But I work in health insurance, and sometimes they need to jump in and handle things out of my bailiwick, or I just want them to be aware that something may come up that could be an issue. I almost never use it in a “tattle tale” way, cc’ing someone else’s boss. That’s not to say I’ve never done it – but in those cases it’s been after several emails that I have sent that have been ignored.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Exactly – CC should be the last resort, not the default.
      I have a person at my company I send information to and they will not respond to me at all. If something needs to be changed, they will forward the email I sent them on to my grand boss and great-grand boss with either a “this is not what I asked for” or “I don’t think I need X report anymore – just Y and Z”. Well the Senior VP isn’t my secretary so I only get the message about 1/3 of the time so several months later my grand boss asks why I am still sending so and so X when they requested to not get it anymore, I told him to check the email and see if I was on it. Of course I wasn’t and since neither of them forwarded it to me I never got the memo.
      IMO he doesn’t deserve to get what he wants if he won’t lower himself to email a measly little analyst.

      1. AppleStan*

        I just wanted to give you internet hugs because that sounds like an INCREDIBLY toxic person you’re forced to work with.

    2. Ophelia*

      Yeah, earlier in my career, I was in a very junior, but client/partner-facing role, and there were times when I’d loop *my* bosses in on CC if something seemed like it was veering either toward “over my pay grade” or as a CYA for myself when I was responding to a request or whatever where my answer was “no,” but the person wasn’t likely to be happy about it. I don’t usually CC others’ bosses, apart from the scenario above, and I usually will state it as part of the email, not just let it lurk there uncomfortably.

    3. London Calling*

      *That’s not to say I’ve never done it – but in those cases it’s been after several emails that I have sent that have been ignored*

      That’s my rule and it’s one I really think about before cc’ing a manager in – but it’s amazing how it gets the results I want. Sometimes I think just knowing their manager has been looped into a problem is enough to get some people moving.

    4. Jadelyn*

      I’m a fan of the strategic CC – we have one EVP who’s incredibly effective at getting people to expedite things, and good at the diplomatic “no, and stop that right now” response. Most of the time, I don’t CC her on things – but when someone under her is being unresponsive, or chronically not getting me things they said they would send me, a judicious CC to that EVP on one of my follow-up emails and boom, whatever I needed hits my desk ten minutes later. Or, I’ll add her as a CC when someone under her is requesting something they shouldn’t be allowed, or trying to circumvent a process and I lack the authority to fully put my foot down on it, and she takes it for the silent cry for help it is and will jump in to be the “bad guy” and rein the person in for me, in a way that I can’t.

  5. AdminX2*

    The corp culture here has cc as an unspoken process in itself. It’s maddening and used as a crutch instead of creating and installing sustainable processes.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ditto. If everyone in a department repeatedly doesn’t or can’t tell us who’s handling X, I’m stuck emailing all of them saying I need to talk about X and copy their boss. I hate doing that, but when I email the boss only, I get no response either!

  6. CupcakeCounter*

    I won’t CC the bosses until the 3rd email request for the information. There are usually a couple of voicemails involved as well.
    Funny thing though…about 10 seconds after that email goes out I have the information I needed. I will also include the previous string of emails or have a line such as “I’ve mentioned in my previous emails and voicemails that I needed this information yesterday and we are now past due on X update to the client so I really do need the information ASAP”.
    If you agree to provide me with X information by Y date (in writing) and I have to call and email you multiple times AFTER that deadline is passed and still get no response? You better believe I’m covering my ass and throwing you to the wolves by CCing the bosses with the entire paper trail. I keep everything.

      1. MayLou*

        My colleague sent an email to an external department (if we are llama-grooming trainers, for example, then the external department is a private company that offers llama stabling services) with a fairly important question and got no reply. She asked me to phone and chase it up, and I got nowhere other than two more email addresses to resend it to. I sent the email again and got no response. Rang one more time a week later, and was told to resend the email and mark it as Urgent.

        Bingo! That was the magic word. We got four replies in the space of twenty minutes, all CCing each other and other departments. Of course it just led to chaos because each of the four replies gave a different answer, but it did at least get a reaction…

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      +1 I do actually CC in the boss when, as Alison asks, “Is the presence of your boss in the cc field intended to imply you’ve been negligent on the matter in the past? Why for the love of God is your manager being dragged into what should be a routine interaction easily handled between two colleagues?”

      Yep, I have already tried to resolve the issue more than once, it’s not minor, I’m getting questioned by Powers That Be, sometimes the boss who I’m now CCing, the issue is still not being resolved, and I have double checked whatever evidence to show that the coworker is the sticking point.

    2. La Framboise*

      Yeah, exactly this at my place of work! I feel no compunction about throwing those people to the wolves who deliberately “forget” the docs I need. Too bad I have to work with them for the next 20 years….(we’re at a community college, we generally don’t have high turnover.)

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yup, I always make sure to forward the chain of emails, so the boss can see how many times and for how long I’ve been trying to get a response from their employee.

      I had a developer at my last company who would never respond to me until I cc’d his boss, so I just started cc’ing his boss on the initial email. Call me petty, but I didn’t have time to play games.

  7. Akcipitrokulo*

    For me it’s usually dead simple. If you’re in the to field, I typically need you to do something. If you’re in the CC field, I don’t – it’s a FYI thing.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For us it’s also so we know each others’ project history –or can at least dig out an email trail — if someone gets sick & we have to be back up .

      1. Media Monkey*

        same. i get cced on emails if i have asked someone to do something so that i know they have done it or where i need to know the response, or where something i need to do hinges on the answer to the email. or where people think there might be an issue and i need to know about it in case.

    2. Kate H*

      I wish this was how it worked in my company. We use CC to an excessive degree. I’m supposed to CC my boss, my coworker, and sometimes my grandboss on all correspondence–whether it has anything to do with them or not. My boss gets upset when another department sends emails to one of us directly, even if it’s a simple request that takes five minutes. If anything comes in that my boss and coworker aren’t included on, I’m supposed to forward those emails to them.

      My boss gets a lot of requests that in an ideal world would come directly to me, because the expectation is that he’ll then divide the work to whomever is available. If I’m lucky, I’m CCing and can respond directly. If I’m not, he has to forward them to me and then I have to add the relevant email addresses back in so I can respond.

  8. Mae*

    Ah, the good ole cc’ing the boss coworker. I moved departments and my ex-boss (lover manager level) would cc my new boss (executive director level) when she thought I had done something wrong*. Never, not once, was she right. She often was missing context or previous conversations or was just plain wrong. After about 6 months, my boss replies to a cc’d email like this (bold caps and all)DO NOT CC ME ON FURTHER EMAILS. YOU HAVE NOT BEEN RIGHT ONCE. AS A MATTER OF FACT, DO NOT EMAIL MY ASSISTANT AGAIN. EMAIL ME FIRST, THEN I WILL DECIDE IF SHE NEEDS TO HANDLE ANYTHING. Not surprisingly, she only worked there for a few more months and made a lateral move to another location and I heard she did not get along very well with the workers there.

    *She was mad at me for transferring departments and repeatedly tried to talk me out of it. Once she said she had all these plans that included me and then she started making unkind remarks about my soon-to-be new boss. She was an awful manager and I would transferred even if the things she said about him were true, which they weren’t.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Love your boss!

      I reply all whether I made the mistake or the sender/ boss cc’er did. (Shrugs) If you want to look silly in front of everyone for calling me out when you misunderstood, then that’s what you get for not talking to me first. I can’t just not respond or people will think the sender is actually correct. So many things can be resolved by having a simple conversation, especially when I do respond to all emails as it is.

  9. AMT*

    Re: #1, I don’t understand why this person would hesitate to reply all, even if they felt bad about bothering their boss with a minor issue. The boss has already been bothered by being cc’d on their coworker’s complaint. Replying all would let the boss know that the issue has been resolved, which creates less work for the boss.

    1. Peachywithasideofkeen*

      I agree. I had a similar situation where a coworker emailed me asking for information is was very simple for her to look up herself and cc-ed her boss and mine. I was super annoyed because it made it seem like she had asked me before and I ignored her (she hadn’t) and as part of her job, she should know where to find that information. I did question whether or not to reply all because the bosses didn’t need to be on the first email, so why include them in an additional unnecessary email? But I ended up just replying all so no one thought I was unresponsive (and also to point out this was something she should know how to find herself).

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Bonus if you can attach an old email where you already told her where to find it. Triple-dog-dare-ya level of passive aggressive but it sure gets the person to stop copying bosses in a big hurry. I’ve only ever used on people who are known to be a pain in the butt and clueless at the same time.

    2. Phillip*

      Also a good way to let the boss know they were in fact not wrong. Which isn’t a petty thing, you don’t really want others thinking you’re racking up a ton of errors when you’re really just silently fixing the errors of others.

    3. hbc*

      Depending on the offender, I will sometimes disingenuously leave open the possibility that there was a reason for the CC and *of course* I don’t want to leave off anyone important. “I don’t think anyone needs to do anything except you, but I’m including all the original people on the email since there seems to be high level interest in this issue.” Or, “Let me know if it isn’t as simple as I assumed and we need action from the Director of International Sales on this $2.00 reimbursement request.”

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve been on the receiving end of these emails 3 times. Each time I professionally responded with information on how the sender was wrong and I replied-all so the whole corporate ladder could know how the sender was wrong. Each time I got a remorseful response back with no cc’s.

  10. Doug Judy*

    I had a coworker who’d cc our boss and my grand boss when I made a any typos. She’s attach a highlighted and marked up PDF of my mistake and email me and cc the bosses. She sat right next to me. It was the worst. The thing is the bosses didn’t care because she was “just trying to help”. I did push back to my boss that it was not helpful at all and I probably did 500-700 data entires a week and if one or two had a typo, just tell me so I can fix. She did eventually stop but then reverted back and bcc them on similarly minor stuff. She was also one of those who when they made a mistake would just laugh, shrug and say oops. But that would be after you spent 20 minutes having to prove she did make a mistake.

  11. EmKay*

    Someone misusing cc is annoying, but I can deal with it. What sends me into an instant white hot rage is someone passive-aggressively using BCC. Thankfully it’s only happened to me once. Well, that I know of.

    Like, have the courage of your convictions and copy my boss to my face, haha.

  12. narya*

    The entire finance department at my last company had this infuriating, tattletale CC-ing culture that was not only bizarre & harmful to those being targeted, but often used to make the sender look good to their own managers by copying them as well. Copying multiple managers on routine emails about following up or checking in on something was part of your job anyway was, at best, wasting everyone’s time, and at worst, made you look like a slacker. It definitely cultivated a toxic environment of distrust and gaslighting.

  13. Ms. Pessimistic*

    It’s funny because I”m usually the one ccing my own boss! If people are out or someone needs coverage, or help with something they will often just email me. I will cc my boss in my response so she is kept in the loop.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      And also I come from a setup where if they do CC my boss, it doesn’t matter…he is just like “oh someone CC’ed me, Becky will get it…” and it’s usually something I’d forward him anyways *shrug* Transparency is my biggest sales pitch for characteristics.

      1. J*

        Cc’ing supervisors is a necessary thing in a lot of roles I’ve worked. In one of my jobs managing a team of about 12 people, my team leader wanted to be cc’d on EVERY email. It sounded crazy to me at first. Thankfully, he just wanted to be kept in the loop and was really good about not trying to do the work for me or micro-manage me. It did come in handy when I’d have to be out of work (medically fragile child), he would have all the information to cover for me without having to be filled in on everything I’m working on.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Yes, I do a lot of CCing to my supervisor because there’s a particular project where people go directly to me, and I like to let him know what’s going on. I always wonder if it looks weird to people on the other side, though.

      1. Ms. Pessimistic*

        I know of one colleague (a level above me) who was upset when I did this. But to be fair, she was upset because she was trying to get me to quite a bit of work for her and I didn’t have the time. I basically emailed back saying I would ask my supervisor to help prioritize my workload.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, at the two offices I’ve worked CC-ing your own boss to keep them in the loop is super normal and common.

      I have occasionally CC’d the other person’s boss if I think they would want to be looped in too.

      There was one single person I worked with years back who was really unresponsive that I did on a handful of occasions have to include my boss and/or his boss on emails to ensure he would reply to important requests. I did not feel bad about that because he was definitely known on my team for not responding otherwise.

    4. Door Guy*

      I have to cc in my boss (who is also company President and CFO) a fair bit partly because he’s a micromanager and it’s easier for me to proactively get in front of him than it is to be disrupted later. That’s not to say I attach him on everything – far from it – but also that while we aren’t a huge company we do have 3 separate physical offices and I manage the location furthest from him (over 2 hours away) so if he doesn’t get clued in on potential issues they can (and have in the past) blown up and he gets blind sided. We’re also the newest location and communication/proper procedure was severely lacking before I came in and I’ve had a lot of flack from my staff about “The Way They’ve Always Done It” when I need to correct them to how things are expected to operate. They don’t realize how fortunate they were that they had a few very strong go-getters that did the extra work and kept the office afloat. They did and those guys are awesome and amazing but there was a LOT of administrative work that they were never part of that was being mishandled at best or just plain ignored at worst. Angry customers having to wait days or longer to get a call back, a monstrous list of past-due accounts (and didn’t that light a hornets nest when we started working it), incorrect orders and work files, even basic scheduling was a mess. I’ve been doing everything I can to get it straightened out but it’s an uphill battle between still needing to do my day to day duties and the fact that most of them are not daily occurrence problems so they get addressed as they pop up. I know there was some “We don’t need him, why is he even here” grumbling for my first few months (not directly to me, of course) but as operations are becoming smoother that’s mostly gone away (although strapping on a tool belt and hitting the field when we were short handed probably helped as well).

  14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Ah this is why I love having just department boxes because I don’t have to deal with this nonsense.

    Though a peeve of mine is starting to become people who don’t CC, they just straight up “to” multiple departments…because why though? Just spamming us with your question, hoping someone will answer. Then I have to reply-all with nonsense like a receipt because that way they know it’s taken care of and it’s really not that big of a deal.

    But I have had to CC people’s bosses because they’re awful at their jobs. I am pure evil on the inside and I accept this. I get why people who do not deserve this kind of ultimate passive aggressive behavior are so grouchy about it! I wouldn’t dream of doing it unless it’s gotten to that level of BS that I’m like “Hello. Seriously are you dead tho, cuz I think you may actually be dead…let me add a couple extra emails to see if it gets to the living.” [Very rarely have I had a response of “Sorry, I was dead tho.” needless to say.]

    1. Door Guy*

      My last job had so many “Groups” that I couldn’t keep them all straight. The one that everyone loved to hate on was called “Localops”. We were warned from the very first day we got our email address that if an email had localops listed as a sender, YOU. DO. NOT. HIT. REPLY. ALL. (or at least remove it from the recipients) because it would send it to 95%+ of the email addresses in the entire nation-wide company.

      Never failed though that a few times a month you’d get an email from someone who hit reply-all. I know I accidentally did it a time or two if the original sender was someone I normally had correspondence with since every other time you DID have to hit reply-all.

  15. Reality Check*

    How about when the CLIENTS do it? I have a few that will cc my boss on every little thing. Because I clearly can’t be trusted to do it without oversight (sarc). Is this so I understand How Very Important the client is and hop to it?

    1. Lance*

      Possibly that, possibly them being the type of people that believe everyone who has some sort of stake in X project (in this case, yourself and your boss at your company) should be kept in the know at all times.

    2. CL*

      I would recommend you touch base with your boss and make sure you’re on the same page – that she knows this a client quirk and not an indication that you’ve not been responsive, either now or in the past.

    3. CatMom*

      I posted about this elsewhere too, but I have a client who CCs the *president of the company* on every email to me. Every one! Will add her in a reply if I don’t CC her on my initial email (which I obviously never do because it’s massively inappropriate). Often along with my manager and 1-3 other managers who aren’t mine.

      (This client is a nightmare in many other ways, as you won’t be surprised to learn)

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And then there’s the set of people who didn’t cc anyone when they wrote to my co-worker and who didn’t bother to read the OutOfOffice message saying “I’m on medical leave please resend your email to Ms. S.S. Childhood. For 43 days. And a half dozen increasingly strident messages. And that OOO message was sent to you EVERY TIME.

    5. Door Guy*

      I’ve got clients that don’t cc my boss, but will add on people that don’t need to see it full stop. It’s especially bad with some of the 3rd party vendors we work with where they have numerous people handling accounts and whoever took the request just forwards it directly to whoever is listed on our account. Despite numerous requests, I just cannot get them to remove my Sales Manager from those lists even though he has absolutely nothing to do with this aspect of our business. He got added once when he was alone in the office when the request came through so they sent it to him.

  16. Lizabeth*

    We have two different situations going on at the hamster wheel:

    1. If I don’t cc’d someone on emails to a particularly difficult whackadoodle, she. will. call. me. every. time. with her answer so there’s no email trail. BUT she will cc the head whackadoodles on very simple basic work requests to me even tho they are always completed in a timely manner.

    2. We have to cc someone on emails to the head whackadoodles because they won’t answer the email otherwise.

  17. Vermonter*

    CC’ing my boss on every minor criticism of my work was one of the ways my not-boss* harassed me into quitting my job. On the rare occasions he thanked me or acknowledged my work, he did it verbally – refused to commit even the slightest praise to writing.

    *He was not my boss but he thought he was.

    1. Artemesia*

      I would have thanked him in writing while CCing my boss. ‘I appreciated your kind comments on how well the presentation at BIGCLIENT went last week; we were thrilled with their response too.’ And would have had a discussion with my boss about the pattern. ‘NOTBOSS seems to be campaigning to undermine me as every small concern he has gets CCed to the top while every positive experience is acknowledged only orally. It is like being pecked to death by ducks — do you have any advice for dealing with people like this?’

  18. Teapot Librarian*

    I am occasionally cc’ed in the “you haven’t gotten back to me so I’m cc’ing your boss” vein. The employee in question has a habit of not including me on his response, so we end up in a situation where I know he’s been non-responsive, the cc’ing of me gave him the prod he needed, but I don’t know that. So I follow up with him “hey, did you get back to Jane on that issue she copied me on?” and he says “of course I did, stop treating me like a child.” Well, okay then.

  19. Volunteer Enforcer*

    I tend to use the fields as follows: to for those who need to take action. CC to loop people in for info. BCC if I’m sending to a group of personal emails at once (to protect peoples info).

  20. ASW*

    My mind immediately jumped to the manager asking to be cc’d even before I read Alison’s response. I have top executives copied on all kinds of routine emails to me because they have told their direct reports that they must copy them on everything. This drives me absolutely insane because we’ll get emails forwarded all the time from customers or vendors asking about invoices that haven’t been received or paid. A lot of times, an invoice got lost in the mail, a payment is in route, something else beyond my control held things up, etc. Now, I feel like I have to reply all so that the senior manager isn’t left with the impression that my department did something wrong, when I don’t think that is the type of thing they even need to be looped in on. It makes me feel like I’m constantly on the defensive. However, I know that the lower level managers are just doing what they’ve been told.

    1. NW Mossy*

      I just do. not. get. upper level leaders that set these expectations. How can they possibly find any of the emails that actually require their input or attention among the thousands that don’t? Why are they wasting their time doing that? I mean, I get probably 10% of the email that a senior leader gets and even I don’t have time for this copy-me-every-time-you-sneeze stuff.

      1. Taura*

        As far as I can tell, they don’t. My boss consistently has an overfull inbox (I’ve had emails bounce back to me because her box was full) and I have to keep a running tally of where my projects are because she’ll just come by my desk and grill me when she can’t find my responses. (Or her responses. Or anything at all past the initial email, if she can even find that.)

  21. Office Goddess*

    I had a co-worker recently email me about her food order for lunch the next day….and she cc’d my manager! When I responded, I took my manager’s name off the email. This person is petty and cc’s managers on every single email, and this one was no exception.

  22. Rebecca*

    I work with one person who does this – cc’s her boss, a VP, lead project manager, everyone in my universe for simple things. It’s annoying. But they all know she’s always over the top and I never hear anything. Still. I am not new at this, I handle many other aspects of my job with many other people, not just her, and none of them do this. I always have to resist the urge to reply all and say “oh hey, I see you’ve missed the president of the company, NASA, the FBI, CIA, etc., do you want to add them too just in case?” This is so frustrating. I’ve brought it up to my direct manager, and she just says “that’s just Jane, we all know blah blah blah” but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

  23. Lissa*

    I’ve been having some issues with my transit benefits. It hit the fan on Oct 24 with the HR person (A) admitting the next day that she had messed up, but there was nothing to be done because the transit system closes changes from the businesses that use it on the 21st so I won’t get the allocation until Dec 1. I’m not out any cash on hand because it means my paycheck is higher than if it had gone through properly, but it impacts my taxable income for the year since it was a pre-tax allocation. My team works off site and I was saying something to my boss and she asked if I had cc’d A’s boss B. I said no because it felt aggressive. But my boss pointed out that I’ve been having lots of problems. She said as a compromise, there is a general HR address so if there is a problem next/this month I should email that address and it will land in both A’s and B’s inboxes.

  24. GiantPanda*

    To me there is a huge difference between CCing my own (the sender’s) boss and the recipient’s.

    I will CC my boss for a lot of things – Because he has asked about the topic. Because this issue might take a while. Because this problem might escalate. Because I will be out next week and someone else might have to take over. Because of … This is all completely normal.

    CCing the recipient’s boss is unfriendly, I agree.

    1. Artemesia*

      This what the BCC was made for though; I don’t understand why it isn’t used more often. You CC when you want others to know they are being watched (or those others are part of the actual project and people know that); you BCC to keep people informed without invoking their authority with the rest of the team.

      1. GiantPanda*

        Using BCC seems somewhat sneaky and is only done in exceptional circumstances. Better to be open about who gets what information, unless there is a specific reason not to be.

        There is a cultural difference here of some sort – this is standard in our office (German, IT for local government), I’m fairly certain I am not an outlier.

      2. SarahKay*

        I would disagree with that, because if I BCC my manager then they don’t get to see the response(s).

      1. Peaches*

        It’s at the bottom of Alison’s link. Here’s what it says (this has been shared previously on AAM as well!):

        During a recent disagreement between my coworker and me, my coworker cc’d his mother on some emails going back and forth between me, him, and our board of directors. … I asked why his mother was being cc’ed, and asked whether she was a consultant for our company. (I know she is not; I was making a point.) He replied, “I’ll cc my mom on anything I like.”

        Perhaps better to cc a manager than a parent, at least.

  25. NW Mossy*

    These sorts of emails are the reason I periodically remind my staff in team meetings that I don’t expect them to drop high-priority work just because someone tried to invoke my authority as the boss to get their thing moved to the top of the pile. My reminder usually involves the phrase “know that when I get these, I will almost always be far more annoyed at the sender than I will be at you.”

    Seriously, eyerolls for DAYS at these emails. The main thing they achieve is cementing the sender’s reputation for being snotty, and often unwarrantedly so.

  26. Artemesia*

    There is another even more horrifying wrinkle to this than the tattle tale purpose. This is the ‘these people support me CC’ when someone is making a complaint or demand. I once tried to get a type of project approved but it got shot down by the VP –ookay — win some, lose some. I know what ‘no’ looks like. One of my lower ranking peers took it upon herself to continue to advocate for this project while CCing me which made it look like I was encouraging her and supporting her and couldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She was generally tone deaf and inclined to imply support she didn’t have to other people, but the powerful VP didn’t know that — so it made me look like a goober. So mad!!!!

  27. 25andconfused*

    The irony of seeing this post while I am currently sending out a ridiculous amount of emails and CCing our CFO on all of them. I hate doing it but he specifically asked so people would finally do what we are asking. Yikes

  28. Alex*

    Everyone at my work hates meetings and use the phrase “This meeting should have been an email.” I have been responding with “This meeting was an email last week but now I had to call a meeting to watch you do it because you wouldn’t do it on your own.”

    1. The New Wanderer*

      This strongly reminded me of the parent version: “I asked you nicely to do this chore three times already, now I’m telling you AND you will not do another thing until it’s done.”

      I don’t have a work analog, people at my company LOVE meetings but also emails. Fortunately we don’t get into a lot of PA manager CC’ing as far as I know, just the usual “you were once remotely associated with this topic so will be CC’d for the rest of your career FYI.”

  29. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    The first time a teapot inspector forgets to rebox a teapot and send it on to the teapot shipping team after they correct it and it comes back into my team’s teapot-boxing queue, I email them.

    The third time they do it, I cc their manager, and I don’t feel bad for half a second, because these people KNOW BETTER and not reboxing the teapots is a potential compliance issue, as well as making more work for me and my team.

  30. jiminy_cricket*

    I really, really love ignoring a CC and direct replying only, though. Depends on your work environment (my boss is very cool), but I get a lot of gleeful feelings out of that.

  31. Betty*

    At my last job I worked with co-workers who would cc my boss (Director of HR) & their boss (CFO) on day to day emails instead of asking me & having a normal conversation. They chose to do it trying to throw me under the bus & to try to make me look incompetent. The truth is they were pathetically insecure. I am so glad I removed myself from that workplace. I am so much happier & now work with adults who do not hate themselves.

  32. rayray*

    This is the worst. I am not a child that needs to be supervised for EVERYTHING. If we can solve the issue between us, leave it there. If this is a problem where you might need the manager’s input or advice on something, add them in but address it in the email (ie Jane, what is your take on this? This is an unusual problem, what should we do?)

    1. Marthooh*

      Lol sweetie, of course you’re not a child, but I just love hearing about everything you do at work all day!
      — xoxoxo, Mom

  33. NotAnotherManager!*

    My husband and I disagree all the time over use of the CC lines. He works for the federal government, and has been told that you need to CC people’s bosses when asking them to do things so that their boss knows what they’re working on and can reassign, if needed (to say nothing of the weird taboo on his going straight to peers in other departments rather than going to his manager, who goes to their manager, who goes to them). I hope it’s just his bureau or division that is that weird because that would drive me insane not to be able to call someone within my organization and say, “Hey, do you have time to help Y with X?” and trust they can manage their own schedule or loop their boss in if they’re swamped.

    I only CC people’s bosses when it’s the third time I’ve contacted them and they haven’t responded or done what was needed. I think my boss would murder people if she got any additional, unnecessary emails.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      That’s silly. So Many things are different in government jobs. Can’t he just accept that this is one of them? (And I’ll bet it’s not even all federal jobs anyway, just where he works. Has he been in the same place for a long time?)

    2. Long Time Fed*

      I’m a fed, and we don’t cc people’s bosses unless we have to. Same rules of common decency apply here.

    3. Tabby Baltimore*

      Fed worker here and, no, I don’t cc: people’s bosses routinely when asking them to do things for me. I don’t even cc: my own boss routinely, just occasionally. I think cc’ing practice is highly culture-dependent on the branch/division/office/agency. It sounds like your husband’s boss has only worked in one place for their whole career.

  34. Database Developer Dude*

    I was deployed with someone who did this in a military environment, even after being asked not to. I outranked them. They had the backup of those who outranked me. It did not end well for me.

    On the civilian side, I don’t do this unless I know someone’s going to react unprofessionally or unless I’m asked to.

  35. Not Today Satan*

    The quicker someone is to pull the “you’re in trouble, CCing your manager” trigger, the more likely they are to be in the wrong on the issue in my experience. Also I’ve never actually worked anywhere where CCing a manager helped with accountability.

    1. AnonEMoose*


      My personal take is that the more someone pushes for a fast answer, the more we should scrutinize the situation, because it’s likely that Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark.

    2. Mr. Shark*

      Certain people in my org skip the cc’ing part. If there is something that didn’t get done on time, the e-mail/task is sent directly to the manager as an escalation, with the person who didn’t get it done as part of the to: line. Basically saying, “Hey, I’ve asked this guy to do this job, and he missed the deadline. You need to know about it because it’s putting our project schedule at risk.”

      You want to avoid having anyone send that e-mail to your boss if you can help it.

  36. AnonEMoose*

    I’ve had people in another department try the “CC my boss” thing on me before. And have on occasion snickered audibly when I saw it, because I knew it wasn’t going to end well…for them.

    The background is that Other Department has a habit of pushing boundaries and trying to get exceptions that aren’t appropriate. And of considering me entirely unreasonable when I say, in essence, “Not going to happen, because X.” Saying “no” in that circumstance is my actual job.

    So they CC my boss, because they think that he will override my “no.” Which is…not what happens. Boss has, on occasion, been overridden by someone higher than him, but that’s on them, not him. And in the regular way of things, he will generally, in no uncertain terms, tell whoever is pushing back that what I told them is in line with our rules, and that we’re not going to do whatever it is they’re asking for. No matter how unreasonable they try to make me look. (And, well, sometimes I AM unreasonable, from their perspective, but when I am, it’s because it’s my job.)

    You’d think they’d learn that this is a tactic unlikely to work the way they’re hoping, but…::shrug::.

  37. Wintermute*

    I like how my company does this. For small, personal things it’s 1-to-1 but for any production issue, tickets, etc. you send to the team box not a person. The manager has access if they want to go look and we all know that, and it avoids issues with having to agonize over who to copy or include, and ensures someone always sees it even if the usual person is out of office or busy.

  38. The Dairy Queen*

    Our boss has us cc our project manager on almost every email we send so they can be “up to date” on project status, but this results in their inbox overflowing and has slowed down their response time. I’m hearing people complain about how they never reply to email, but I don’t think it’s their fault. They come in to work with easily 100 new emails a day and have to wade through actual requests vs status updates.

    This is all so that they can give our boss and/or CEO and their EA instant status updates. It’s a hot mess.

  39. Kevin*

    I report directly to my employer’s CEO. So I view CCing her as a pretty big stick. The issue is that she has asked to be CCed on everything relating to a specific department and I feel like the primary recipients of the emails feel like I’ve declared war on them by CCing her on everything but I’m only following a directive.

  40. Mary Anne Spier*

    Yes, I’ve done this. In a school I worked at, there was a school psychologist who didn’t always test the students she was supposed to on time. There are federal legal deadlines in special education that require the testing to be done on time or the parents can sue. Because the students were on my caseload, getting the testing done was my responsibility. Since she was the only one qualified to administer certain tests, I would land in hot water if she missed deadlines. She didn’t seem to care. Nothing seemed to stick to her. Finally I just started cc’ing everyone above us when I reminded her to do the testing because I was tired of being spoken to. It may have been passive-aggressive but going the usual route didn’t work, and I was done being yelled at.

  41. PMP*

    Thank you for this! I just sent this article to my boss because there are people in the company that do this ALL THE TIME and they don’t get why it bothers me…

  42. Stuck Here*

    My boss tells me to CC people’s supervisors in almost every correspondence. My dept. provides a lot of data support for our sales dept. The leadership of the sales dept. does NOT get along with my boss very well (understandable b/c she is pretty insistent that they are lazy and she would know how to manage them better), so my boss has me CC everyone as a CYA measure. I think about just stopping.

  43. Amber Rose*

    When I tell a customer something they don’t want to hear, they inevitably CC my boss when emailing back to ask me to accomplish the impossible. She used to do the work I do… five years ago. She’s more likely to back me up or just ignore the emails, but it gives me unnecessary anxiety to have her copied on things all the time and it frustrates me that after five YEARS I’m still not trusted to be able to do my damn job.

    Coworkers pull this less frequently, but still occasionally, and I don’t know why because it’s unlikely to get them anywhere.

  44. Finkfink*

    I had to laugh the time a coworker emailed a request to me, then continued to email me daily with angrier and angrier words asking why I hadn’t done it yet, until the day they finally CCed my boss and half the staff on our respective teams with a final THIS IS A SIMPLE REQUEST WHY HAVEN’T YOU DONE IT YET?? To which my boss replied-all, “Finkfink hasn’t done it yet because Finkfink is in Japan. I’ll be happy to do it.”

    To be fair, I’d forgotten to enable my autoresponder but we also have an institution-wide calendar where everyone records their days off and all they had to do was check that to see if I was out.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Oooh, this is why I write every “why haven’t you done this, you moron” email as if *I* were the moron. Because you never know when that will actually be the case.

  45. Sir Non Passus Aggrevoso*

    Most of the time I consider CCing to be the email equivalent of bringing everyone into a room for the sake of hearing the topic of the email. It’s a crazy obnoxious way of bringing up issues – as if the manager truly wants to read all of these CCs. Which they probably don’t have time to do. Grow up!

  46. Enginear*

    What about when a junior coworker sends you a calendar invite to REMIND you to do a task AFTER the fact that you replied to their email that you would add it to your to-do list for next year when the budget becomes available?

      1. 1234*

        Forward the junior coworker the email you sent them with the note “See below. Perhaps this got lost in your inbox the first time!”

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      So. Obnoxious.

      They should have set up a calendar item to remind THEMSELVES to ask you about it next year. But we all have to learn that the thing that is high priority for us is not necessarily high priority for others, and that’s okay.

      1. Evan Þ.*

        I’ve started doing that recently. It takes a load off my mind to not have to remember who and when I need to follow up with about half-done tasks.

  47. Adminonomous*

    Several years ago I worked in HR at a company. Well, the GM of the place who had several managers reporting to him and several hundred employees under them, decided that he wasn’t in the loop enough on what was going on between HR and his underlings. He requested that he be cc’ed on every. single. email. Well, he made that request and then went on vacation for a week.

    He came back and told us to go back to cc’ing him only on things that he needed to be cc’ed on. I’m pretty sure it took IT a few days to un-jam his inbox.

  48. Jellyfish*

    I’ve had two bosses who wanted me to CC them on my outgoing emails. In one case, the boss was a terrible micromanager and her default setting was nuclear. That was irritating, unnecessary, and generally problematic.

    In the other case, I did a lot of work with contracts and permits. My boss trusted me to get things done, but that way he knew where things were in the process. If someone asked him for a timeline or an update, he had access to that information.

    Now, guess which one of those two really liked to CC other people’s managers & higher ups on random emails?

  49. Ya'll*

    About four months back, my organization instituted a new practice that says we’re required to CC managers on every email that a “request” is made. Both our managers and the “requestee’s” manager. Because my role involves making frequent requests of others (nearly daily), I also have the fun job of re-adding everyone else’s manager to the email when, inevitably, we hit “reply” instead of “reply all.”
    Can confirm, the manager CC does not help build trust and morale.

  50. Meredith*

    I work with external clients, and the only thing worse than a client CCing my boss (who is fine and not vindictive and won’t care) is the client CCing their OWN boss.

  51. Data Maven*

    I have the issue where my (new) manager asks to be cc’d on EVERYTHING. And I don’t like to oblige because when I do she will add to the thread “clarifying” something that doesn’t need clarification, or panicking the recipients who I have a great rapport with. Which has caused some friction, but I would prefer people to maintain my good relationships with external collaborators.

  52. Leela*

    There’s a sick part of me that’s enjoying everyone at my job CC’ing my boss. I’m the interface between departments which generally means that since I’m the only part of a process people see, they assume I’m responsible for all parts of it and if something goes wrong I’ve messed up. Several times a day I get angry e-mails about x, y, or z not being done/being done wrong and they CC my boss, which just makes him roll his eyes because he knows full well (and can see in the e-mail chain) that they’ve made no effort to find out what’s actually going on and are jumping straight to “Leela must just be dropping the ball AGAIN even though the last ten times I sent angry messages with CC’s I turned out to be wrong about it”.

    For real though, I wish people would just realize that we’re an organization with a gajillion departments and me being the face doesn’t mean I’m the one you start getting angry at when things aren’t going you’re way. Here’s a list of things I’ve been blamed for and had my boss CC’ed on:

    1) We have recognition that gets sent out by me, based on a list that’s given to me by managers. Managers sometimes do not send in complete or correct lists, and I have no way of knowing if the lists are complete or correct because they’re the ones deciding who gets on them. I am blamed for sending out the correspondence with incorrect information.

    2) People are supposed to be signed up for different things in our organization. This goes through a department that has nothing at all to do with me and the list doesn’t get sent to me. I am blamed for those people not being signed up properly.

    3) Various tech issues with our computers. I am not in IT, nor do I manage IT’s tasks, send them tasks (except if I have my own tech issue I need help with) or manage the technology in any way. Everyone is told in orientation to submit an IT ticket for issues and how to do so. I am blamed for computers not working, even though I couldn’t know that without being told, and I can’t do anything about it once I am told.

    4) People get locked out of our payroll system. I do not have any kind of access at all to get them back in. I am blamed for them being locked out and not getting them back in.

    5) I put in orders for office supplies, but I don’t get to order them myself – I sent those to purchasing and once I sent the request I have no hands on the process. I am blamed for things I ordered months ago still not being here because purchasing de-prioritized them over other things.

    6) People in the department want to come in over breaks and get stuff done (we have access to cool technology that can be very expensive to have at home, and we do allow people to use it for their own stuff as long as it’s not interfering with their duties), but the organization closes down over breaks. I am blamed for not letting people come in.

    7) People don’t check their e-mails. I am blamed for them not being told things they were definitely told via e-mail but didn’t check, and it’s not the kind of thing where I could tell them in person/over messenger. (Needs to go out to the entire org, has attachments, etc)

    8) We get feedback forms filled out by people under someone, I get those feedback forms to the people they’re about (anonymously). A lot of people just don’t fill them out. I am blamed for low participation, but I also have no standing to make anyone participate that doesn’t.

    And so on, and so on.

  53. 1234*

    What about in a group text?

    A new manager, Bill, put his manager Samantha and me in a group text saying “Hi, 1234, please don’t forget to do Y task. X materials for Y task were left behind in the office when I was there yesterday.” Well, when I did Y task, I also took a photo of the completed task (required) showing use of X materials. I sent that photo back in the group text and said “I picked up X materials last week when I went to the office for another task unrelated to Y.”

    *eye roll* If Bill didn’t think I did Y task, then he can just ask me about it directly.

  54. Mel_05*

    I had a boss who required me to CC her on almost every email. Not that she ever checked her email. She just had to be CCed.

    But, our department was being heavily micromanaged by *her* boss, so I imagine that had something to do with it.

  55. Middle Manager*

    Unfortunately, we don’t have great cooperation between difference departments in my office and that has led to a terrible cc:ing culture. If I send an email to someone who’s roughly a peer in another department, about half the time it will be ignored or sit until I have to send multiple follow ups that are down to the very wire of a deadline that was stated from the start (think, federal report must be submitted by COB Friday, please send by COB of Thursday so we can include, information gets sent at 4:54 on Friday instead). BUT if I cc: the bosses, it gets a timely response. I’ve raised it repeatedly with my boss and other senior managers, but no one will take action on it, so my take is “so be it, be cc:ed on ridiculous amounts of email then”

  56. Fiona*

    Not a work story but CC-related and maybe some will get a kick out of it.
    I came of age (middle school) around the time that email was taking off. I had an AOL account that I used mostly for AIM and maybe the occasional email. I had no idea what “CC” meant – even if it had been explained to me that it meant “carbon copy” that would have meant nothing. All I knew was that there was a “TO” field and another field right below it, which I assumed was for the “FROM” line.

    So, I would merrily add my own email to the “CC” line and I suppose it meant I got copies of all my own emails, but I doubt I was sending many to begin with.

    This all continued without much fanfare until I was bored one day and thought how much fun it would be if I received a love letter from my crush. (I know, this sounds like a fake letter to YM). Being a dramatic, love-lorn 7th grader, I composed a full-on love letter TO MYSELF ostensibly from this boy I liked. I put my own email in the “TO” field and HIS EMAIL ADDRESS in the “CC” field. So yes, I sent him a love letter via email that looked as though he had written it.

    The next day in gym class he approached me about the email and a dark chill flooded my body as I realized what I had done.

    Now it makes me laugh, as its certainly the dumbest thing I can imagine someone doing. But I learned what “CC” meant real fast!

    1. Leela*

      I don’t think I’ve ever cringed so hard, I’m so sorry! In my version of this story it opens up the door to him saying he actually does feel all those things but I’m guess it probably didn’t go that way:/

    2. Enginear*

      Hmm. I have a colleague who cc’s themselves in all their emails. Maybe they have the same idea of what cc means like you did lol

  57. LawBee*

    Way back when my (current) firm was founded, the culture in the local office was to cc: everyone on everything. This worked and was necessary because it was a very small office, and the boss was notorious for losing emails. He also had a tendency to assign work to Todd, and then later ask Mary how she was doing on the project that she had no idea about. He was a lovely man, just super overworked. So the staff copied each other on every single email as a CYA and out of necessity.

    Forward to now, ten years later, and I am constantly telling them “if I ask you to look into something, I don’t need to be copied on all the emails where you’re looking into it. I trust that you’re doing it, please please please take me off those email chains because if I’m on them then I may as well have done the thing myself.” and “If I email Tom about a project it’s because I want Tom to do the project, not Tom and Mary and Alice and Wakeen. They have other work!”

    Old habits are hard to break.

  58. CubeFarmer*

    I cc my boss’s boss when I email a certain colleague because it’s the only way he will do something.

  59. MOAS*

    When I was new, I had someone reviewing my work who would constantly CC my boss every time she had a correction to make. It was frustrating because I was new. I did get better, but then I became a reviewer. And in the beginning, before tax season, I would cc my boss, just to show him these are the things I was looking for. So I gave my first reviewer hte benefit of the doubt.

    Now that I’m a manager, I have a different view… CC is to keep THEIR boss in the loop, while BCC is to keep MY boss in the loop. And it’s not always like “omg, YOU DON MESSED UP” type of CC, it’s like. “oh hey, don’t do this small thing because this is what happens” >> by saying this, it’s meant to be a casual heads up, both for the recipient who may be new and still not know the little things, and for the supervisor to coach them on if necessary.

  60. Pipe Organ Guy*

    Whenever I order toner for our copier/printer, I cc the parish administrator and our sales rep from the copier company, because things go wrong at times, and it’s really good to have the paper trail (so to speak) to prove that indeed I placed the order in a timely fashion. It’s not helpful when the order department claims they never got the email, when the administrator and the sales rep can confirm that they got the order.

    Rarely have to do cc otherwise.

  61. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    I used to do this :-/ I learnt it from my colleagues at a somewhat toxic corporate back in the 90s, where covering your @ss and passing the buck was standard practice. Widespread use of email to communicate with your colleagues was also pretty new so there wasn’t much info available about using it wisely*. Fortunately I figured out that it was stupid and made me look bad.

    * I also worked at a company in the 90s where an unfortunate colleague sent a company wide email criticising the new management team ( instead of her friend Alison ( and then followed it up with several confused messages asking Alison why she was receiving her own messages, until someone went to her desk and physically stopped her from sending more messages. We didn’t see her the next day (or ever again).

  62. beagle mama*

    Corporate culture at my workplace is to copy multiple people on emails to keep them apprised of what is going on. I’ve had a gentle wrist slap for not cc’ing my boss on little things that were under control. The logic is that if something warrants escalation then everybody knows what is going on and can react accordingly. Different from my prior jobs where doing that earned a gentle slap on the wrist.

  63. irene adler*

    I get cc’d (along with my boss and the president of the company) from the tech service person who wants everyone involved with her job (customer complaint handling). She thinks that involving everyone makes it so professional – like “we all need to be concerned with customer X and their issues with our product”.

    It’s like she’s off -loading her work onto others.

  64. StellaBella*

    LOL to person in the Slate article who cc’d their mom, wow.

    Where I work now email is only for important things on record so we use slack. Not sure being @channeled by the new gumption having insecure mar comm manager about 13x a day on several channels is any better. But am not gonna tell her that two of those channels include the VP. Ha..

  65. CatMom*

    I have a client who ccs THE PRESIDENT OF MY COMPANY on every email they send me. Every one. Adds her in their replies to my emails. This person knows she is the president of the company — they just think they’re that important, I guess.

  66. Mrs. Smith*

    Once in a while, it’s the perfect choice: I am pleased and fortunate to have thoughtful, insightful colleagues who on selective occasions will email me to thank me for something I’ve done they admired, that helped them, whatever, and they CC my boss on it to ensure it gets noticed. Librarians fly under the radar a lot and this does actually remind the powers that be that the work I do matters. It’s not often enough to be bothersome or often enough to become commonplace, so it’s a lovely thing they’re doing on my behalf – Boss has stopped by my desk more than once to praise me for being innovative or helpful or hardworking, and it’s because of those CC emails he gets, no doubt.

  67. Kat*

    I have cc’d someone’s Director on emails before as a way to bring attention to the fact that the person I’m emailing hasn’t done something required, hadn’t done it by the deadline, is repeatedly asking dumb questions (signals a training/performance issue), is trying to dump their work on my team, etc. If people don’t like it, they can do the job they’re paid very well to do, when they’re supposed to do it.

    There were three big offenders I had to do this a lot with and I don’t feel bad about it at all.

  68. roisin54*

    I once goofed up at work (I forgot to come in for a half day shift on a Sunday, leaving my co-worker alone for four hours) and despite the fact that my boss already knew about it, since she’s the one that called me, the co-worker emailed my boss to complain and cc’d half the department just to make sure that even more people knew how badly I screwed up. It was one of the several things she did surrounding that incident to make me look as bad as possible.

    It backfired on her though, because the cc’ing in combination with the other things she did just made people more sympathetic to me than her. The only repercussions I faced were extreme embarrassment and losing the overtime pay I would’ve made if I had gone in.

  69. Llellayena*

    CC is a tool. And like any tool it will wear out/break if you use it too often or in the wrong way. On a normal round of emails, CC people who need to be included in the information exchange. Otherwise, save it for “I’ve tried 3 times and you’re still not responding” or “there’s a big enough screw up that someone higher needs to know.”

  70. Lynn Whitehat*

    My son’s school has shown me a new abuse of cc: NOT including the cc’s in replies. Usually, I write to the school about our son and cc my husband. Then they write back to JUST ME. Since we are married and generally in agreement about our son’s education, this is a minor irritant. But it must wreak absolute havoc when people are divorced or otherwise not communicating well, and then they’re not getting the responses.

    Me: Subject: “Suspending my son for 3 days for running in the hallways?”
    To: Son’s teacher
    cc: my husband
    “My son tells me he has been suspended for 3 days for running in the hallways. Is this true? I would like a conference to discuss.”

    School: Subject: “Re: Suspending my son for 3 days for running in the hallways?”
    To: Me
    [no cc!!!!]
    “OK, let’s have a conference tomorrow at 7.”

    When my step-daughter was younger, my husband and his ex were required by the divorce decree to loop each other into all communication with the school. This kind of thing really throws a monkey wrench in the ability of divorced parents to comply with that!

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      fwiw spouse and I use an alias for emailing school – imagine That mailbox automatically forwards to both our real inboxes, and we can both send-as from it. That could be a useful solution for you.

  71. Bossy Boss*

    My workplace has the policy that bosses HAVE to be cc’d into every single email. I have gotten in trouble too many times to count for not cc’ing her in for even the smallest issue. It drives me nuts. :(

  72. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Almost all the emails I send and receive have multiple ccs. Nature of the beast hereabouts. But I work remotely and we’re paperless, which probably makes a difference. I’m copied into emails to my boss, because it’s likely he’ll do the substantive response but I’ll be dealing with deadlines or paperwork formalities in the background, or forwarding invoices to Finance, or whatever.

    I’ll add a hint of snark to the comments by noting how many times copying someone’s *assistant* into an email is the best or only way to get something done … That’s generally where the addressee is very senior and receives a squillion emails each day.

  73. Seeking Second Childhood*

    It throws a wrench for those of us who are married in the same house but working different schedules!
    (Of course, this is just the flip side of their assumption that woman=primary contact. It’s taken us two years to get it through to the nurse that dad works at his desk 5 miles away and I have a “chicken with my head cut off” job 45 miles away in a Vetizon dead zone. But if the kid has to come home sick, one guess who they call repeatedly until they “give up and call the second parent”. Who is the primary. Score one for casual sexism I guess.)

  74. Theelephantintheroom*

    I do this all the time to a certain coworker because I absolutely do not trust him to do his job and I know CC’ing his manager is the only way I’ll get a response.

    He actually came by my desk once to tell me he wanted me to stop and I pretty much told him I wouldn’t and gave him some “diplomatic” excuse.

    He tries to sneakily remove the people I CC (especially when his answer is along the lines of, “I don’t feel like dealing with this” and I’m not exaggerating, I’ve received many responses from him like that. Or responses claiming he doesn’t know how something works even though he built it). I guess he thinks I won’t check. But I do and I add them right back in.

    Not sorry. Get better at your job, yo.

    1. Meg*

      Are you sure that this is the best way to approach it? I would imagine his boss has tired of it as well.

      1. 1234*

        If that’s the case, it’s up to the boss to handle it. If I was Theelephantintheroom, I would also keep CCing the boss. If boss is annoyed, boss can talk to Flaky Coworker.

  75. Amethystmoon*

    CCing supervisors is quite normal in my company. I get why some consider it passive-aggressive, but also in many companies, it’s considered normal looping in.

    1. Meg*

      I know that Alison has said in the past that good managers should not have to be cc’d to be kept in the loop.

  76. membril*

    One of my favorite email tricks is the phrase “moving XXX to BCC”, usually done as a parenthetical at or near the top of the mail. For example, Arya sends mail introducing me to Sansa. Arya gets to see that I followed up on the email, she doesn’t get looped in to a conversation she doesn’t need to be on, and everyone keeps the convo in a single email thread.

  77. MissDisplaced*

    I use CC sparingly. Sometimes for it’s intended purpose to include people as a courtesy, but who aren’t expected to respond, and occasionally if I’m not getting a response after previous emails and then need to loop in my manager in the hope they’ll move the needle.

  78. Meg*

    I cc my boss. Not bc I want to but bc she wants us to cc her on important stuff. I would prefer to never cc my boss ever. But I always worry people think I’m being passive aggressive by doing that. I would just blind copy her if I wanted to tattle.

  79. Delta Delta*

    My husband got cc’d on an internal email where the bosses were trying to figure out when to fire him. Because the boss was stupid and thought cc was how emails got indexed, not that it was how to copy someone on an email. I am not making this up.

  80. sequined histories*

    Honestly, I have a colleague that I used to do this to because I knew she would not do anything to address the relevant issue otherwise—basic things like giving me a new toner cartridge for my printer—and yes, I really had to go through her, it’s part of her job. (I gave it a year or more before I resorted to this technique.) After a few years of cc’ing her boss every single time, I tried not doing it, and she has continued to be very responsive ever since. I have no idea if she’s stepped it up generally or if I’m now on some kind of unwritten high priority list in her mind. Since we now have a pleasant, collegial relationship, it seems foolish to ask her about now, so I guess I’ll never know what the deal was.

  81. sequined histories*

    As a teacher, I have dealt with a parent who was into some next-level cc’ing. I’m not talking about just my direct supervisor, or even just the principal of the school, but the superintendent of our huge school district, the deacon at the parent’s church, and the mayor of our quite large city would all be receipt of the parent’s philosophical treatises on education. The parent also sent teachers many emails written in all caps. If the parent was upset with you, you might get all-cap emails #2 and #3 before you could even finish reading #1. The parent would be banned from emailing particular teachers directly (because of the verbal abuse involved), and then blithely ignore the ban.

  82. Wrench Turner*

    Okay, but I swear I have a good reason. I work out in the field 39 out of 40 hours, my immediate boss is frequently and suddenly out of office without warning and overall communication is so bad in my company. I HAVE to email his boss too if I need information sent along. Sometimes even that guy is out without warning.
    Sometimes I need parts ordered, or a customer is pissed (or both), and I have no way of knowing if he’s even there. None of us do. We’re all shouting in the void. Please be patient with your wrench turners. We’re doing our best.

  83. Trish*

    I’m lucky. I have one co-worker (Mid-level Manager) who cc-s my boss (Department Director) on everything! 90% of the time I’ve either already handled the situation or the situation was caused by co-worker not reading my email to her explaining that I required her input to head off the problem in the 1st place.

    What she doesn’t seem to get is that she is really pissing him off. He is super annoyed that she wants him to be involved in every single petty thing that she thinks is a problem.

  84. Lusankya*

    The most infuriating Cc I ever got was when this dickhead director at my work decided to criticize my work ethic and intelligence in an email reply that not only included the sales team (who my initial email was directed to), but also the woman who was taking over my role during my upcoming maternity leave, and two of my direct reports. I was furious, because it was an obvious attempt to undermine my role, which he’d been trying to do for the last year.

    I looped in my manager when I replied to him, because I could tell dickhead wasn’t going to get any nicer. In the end, dickhead ended up coming upstairs to shout at me (in front of my team, while I was six months pregnant, sick, and had only come in that day to make sure some stuff on my desk had been actioned) because I had pointed out that a client quote had been quoted under cost, and had asked him to make a decision about it (his job, not mine, company policy stated that I should have nothing to do with quoting).

    After he shouted at me, I went and had a cry in the toilet, because I was
    six months pregnant, sick, and had only come in that day to make sure some stuff on my desk had been actioned, and did not have enough emotional resilience to deal with his shit.

    In a way, it was a gift, as I knew I was literally just doing my job, and he still had to have a go at me. The regional director also had a talk with him after that, and had evidently told him to leave me alone, and dickhead didn’t speak to me once from then until I went on maternity leave.

  85. Doctor Schmoctor*

    Not exactly a “cc” story, but close enough:

    My ex boss used to give me only the crappy tasks, even when I begged him to involve me in the projects. I had tons more experience than the other people on the project.
    Then he complained about my low performance. It’s kind of hard to do my work well, when I don’t have work to do.

    Anyway, one day I received an email about manager training for how to deal with low performing employees. A few minutes later boss let me know: “Ignore that email. It was sent to you by mistake.” I’m not so sure. I think he very much wanted me to see it as some kind of warning.

  86. Fikly*

    I’ve been laughing about “I’ll cc my mom on any email I want” since it was first posted. It doesn’t get old!

  87. The Meow*

    I had a coworker who CC’d our boss whenever she thought I did something stupid but really she was the one who made an error. Even after clarifying I did not do the Dumb Thing she accused me of doing, Boss never acknowledged the rudeness of Coworker’s abuse of CC. As a result I was left wondering if Boss still thought I was doing the Dumb Things. It would have been nice if he said to me, even in passing, “Hey I saw that email from Jo about X. I spoke with her about it, I didn’t think that was appropriate.” Or something along those lines. Abuse of CC can be a form of bullying and I really wish bosses will address it directly.

  88. Bowserkitty*

    Crap. This reminds me that I was asked to CC someone on an email over the weekend.

    I don’t think I even wrote the email to the main recipient…

  89. Newington*

    I used CC “downwards” recently when I wanted it to be on record that I’d made something clear to my boss – he was under the impression that I’d opted out of the European maximum work hours, and I haven’t. I CC’d his admin person and my team lead. Felt good. Hope that’s a legitimate use.

  90. Flash Bristow*

    No 1 I’d reply to all saying “ah yes, I see where you’re going wrong. I’ll contact you privately so you can see how it goes”.

  91. TinLizi*

    I was closing up the museum at 1am, after an event, and left the door to the men’s room open after putting the mop in the closet. When I got to work the next day, someone had cc’ed the entire staff about the door being open. To close it, just kick out the door stop.

  92. JustaTech*

    There’s a cross functional (dysfunctional) team that some of my group are on that is constantly a battle of the cc/reply-all. Several people are so constant in the use of CC and reply-all as ways of punishing other people on the team (reply all “You got this lot number wrong. That needs to be correct.”) that now even appropriate uses of cc/reply-all are met with great hostility.

    I wouldn’t care much, except that it bleeds over into other work, so one coworker will individually reply to an email asking several people if they can help with something, and then the rest of us think that no one responded and then there’s a whole bunch of extra back and forth that could have been avoided with a reply all.

  93. Not-Quite-Reformed Reporter*

    At my last job, I emailed our typist (kind of an antiquated title, I know) some long lists of scholarship recipients that needed to be processed so they were publication-worthy for the newspaper. I told her no rush, just as she had time. I was the education reporter and normally handled these press releases from the schools myself because I felt weird assigning them to someone else, but it was the end of the school year and I was swamped and on deadline for an actual news story. And ultimately this was what our typist was there for. But our receptionist found out and she asked the typist to forward her my email and did a reply all with not only my boss but the managing editor basically implying that I should do my own work and the typist was too busy. My managing editor, who was completely non-confrontational on work matters, replied all with a scathing response that both she and the typist should do whatever I asked them to do without question or complaint. I almost fell out of my chair in shock but she never did the cc thing with me again.

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