Emailing Tips: To cc or not to cc

Over the past year, I have put a lot of effort into reducing the time I spend in my inbox. The effort has been well worth it. I’ve become more productive and less stressed.

There are a lot of unwritten rules when dealing with email that differ from company to company. I use email as my primary means of communication with my clients at Gunner Technology and with my colleagues at ESPN.

I’ve seen lots of missteps.

Sarcasm gets missed. Tone of voice is misinterpreted. Empires are built (seriously). This all goes down in email.

I recently had a misstep of my own.

I was working with a company that had two partners. One of the partners emailed me about some design changes and an email chain followed. At one point, I wondered if I should copy the other partner on the chain.

I decided not to, and here’s why.

At ESPN, I offended a couple people by throwing other parties on a cc during a chain. The interpretation was that I was trying to get people on my side of the argument and undercut the person I was having the original conversation with.

Additionally, I do what I always do: Ask myself how I would feel.

As a partner, I wouldn’t mind if a vendor communicated with my partner without including me. It’s incumbent on my partner to include me on anything I need to know. That’s my thinking.

So, not wanted to offend the person who originally emailed me, I left the partner off the cc. The next day, the other partner expressed disappointment in that decision and explained why. And it was a perfectly valid reason.

The whole point of this is assume as little as possible. When you form a business relationship with someone — anyone — be it a client or an employee or an employer, ask. Set the ground rules up front.

In business, you’re not going to think of everything, but remember that the most minute details, down to copying others on email, should be worked out.

And when you miss on something and assume incorrectly, explain why you made the assumption, apologize and work out the details for similar situations in the future.


Cody is a Product Manager and Social Media Specialist at ESPN. He manages, conceptualizes and develops many of the social aspects of He also is Founder and CEO for Gunner Technology, Inc an end-to-end Web strategy company, providing solutions for businesses. Previously, Cody worked as a developer for, building many of the live scoreboards and GameCast applications. In a previous life, he covered Florida Gator sports as a beat reporter, talk show host and television producer. Cody earned an MBA, Masters Degree in Communication and Bachelors Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He currently lives in Los Angeles. To find out more, read his blog, follow him on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.

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