How many mails come into your inbox on a daily basis?
Now take that number and determine how many of those mails were actually addressed to you vs those you were cc:ed on.
Now of the mails that you were cc:ed on, how many of those were actually useful or that you took action on? (An action cannot be the action of deleting the email).
Probably close to zero right?
Before email, two people could have a conversation and know they were important to the outcome of that conversation. With email – you never know! You could cc the world on an email thread, but your expectations (i.e., read and act) could be totally different from what someone else’s expectations are (i.e., skim and dismiss). Everyone is always complaining about too much email to sift through, but what if you only had to deal with the mail that was addressed to you and was relevant.
The whole argument – “I wanted to make sure you were aware” – doesn’t hold water anymore. If it is that critical that you want someone to be aware, then you should really look at picking up the phone and talking to them – “hey there’s a problem and you need to be aware of it”.
I’m guilty of cc:ing too many people on emails (I try, sometimes I do well, sometimes I fail), it’s too easy, it doesn’t cost anything. What if for every person you cc:ed it cost you a quarter, you’d change your emailing habits wouldn’t you? In a flash I bet. And you probably wouldn’t see that much of a difference because the people that you really needed to see the email and take action, would probably have the same result – of actually taking action.
The other, inadvertent reaction to cc:ing lots of people on your emails, is avoidance of action. You see a long list of people on an email thread, and they all start to think that someone else will take the necessary action – “Oh Dan’s on this, he’s got it, I’ll delete and go back to life”.
If we all sent more directed email, and less cc:drivel, we’d probably get a lot more action from our email as opposed to wondering why no one read your email or even worse, why no one took action on it.