Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You've Been CC'd; Copying in the Boss Is the Ultimate in Email Power Play. but Use It Wisely, It's a Very Fast Way to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Says Phoebe Luckhurst WORK

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You've Been CC'd; Copying in the Boss Is the Ultimate in Email Power Play. but Use It Wisely, It's a Very Fast Way to Lose Friends and Alienate People, Says Phoebe Luckhurst WORK

Article excerpt

Byline: Phoebe Luckhurst

YOU'RE tangled in an endless indecisive email chain -- they forgot the conference call, but you remain slightly unsure what you're discussing. Regardless of this fundamental issue, you're getting away with it, blithely pulling off the capable-andengaged-employee schtick. You remind yourself of someone successful you saw in a film once. Perhaps you'll continue this in the pub -- the "sent from my iPhone" sign-off corroborating the impression that you're an important multitasker who has it all.

One drink later, you check your emails and notice someone else has been added to the conversation: your contact has CC'd your boss. They've made no reference to the invite. It's game over; you, by default, are incompetent, inexperienced and in the sh**.

The passive aggressive CC is the ultimate power-play. It's a reminder that email is neither a private conversation nor a safe space: at any moment, an interloper can be invited without warning, and bear witness to a transcript of the whole conversation, the electronic trail that testifies to your inadequacy. The masterstroke is the specific point at which the CC is enacted -- usually after you've sent something unintentionally aggressive or useless -- and the refusal by the sender to reference what they've done. But make no mistake -- they've gamed you.

Victims of the passive aggressive CC feel unfairly targeted -- however lacklustre your engagement, this CC is the adult equivalent of grassing someone up. But crucially, you can't do anything except pull up your socks and fume silently. You definitely can't reference the CC, or worse, send a petty email back in full view of your boss. You've run out of moves.

"When I worked at the civil service it always seemed to me they must offer training in passive aggressive email," grumbles a colleague. "So effortlessly irritating were so many colleagues in this respect. Though I think it's actually just characteristic of big, bureaucratic organisations where everyone is constantly covering their arse. …

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