The Cowardice Behind BCC

On the surface, this blog post is about email etiquette. And if that’s all you take away from it, I hope it serves you well.

But the core of this blog post is really about your integrity.

It’s almost impossible to be in the workforce and not send an email. No matter what email server you use, the components are all the same.

You have a blank space for the subject of the email, a space for whom you’re sending the email, another one for anyone you want to copy in the email (CC), and then you’ll find a space labeled “BCC”.

BCC stands for blind carbon copy. It allows the sender to conceal that the person or group entered in the “BCC” field is included in the email.

It’s a great idea if you use it to send mass emails to a long list of recipients, or to a list of people who don’t really know each other. Unfortunately, this invention went horribly wrong when people started utilizing it as a means to secretly send conversations to third parties. (And I’ve seen people in all levels of organizations wrongfully use it this wayfrom secretaries to executives.)

In almost every instance where I was included as a “BCC” in a work-related email, a coworker was either trying to cover up their faults in a particular incident, or secretly revealing the disparaging words of a colleague.

Even though some shocking revelations were found by my “blind” inclusion in the conversation, the fact that I was BCC’d said more about the sender who added me into the discussion than the person who responded.

Why does this person see the need to be so sneaky and underhanded? Who’s getting blind copied when he/she sends me an email? Is the sender so insecure that he/she feels invisible “back up” is needed?

You learn at a young age that it’s wrong to talk behind another person’s back if you wouldn’t repeat those same comments in front of the person.

That’s obvious, so let’s take it a step further.

It also shows poor integrity to have a conversation with someone—in person, on the phone, or electronically—and not inform them of all the parties who are included in it.

What are you trying to hide?

If you stand behind what you’re saying, it shouldn’t matter who sees it. And if you don’t have the guts to reveal who’s really in the conversation, maybe you shouldn’t be saying it.

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources

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