“We had been emailing back and forth all morning,” Maria Cutrone, 30, a Baltimore-based web designer recalls. She and a coworker couldn’t see eye-to-eye on a project. Should they ask the client to postpone the deadline in order to complete testing or should they deliver a product that wasn’t quite there? “By the time 10 emails had been sent, I was seriously beyond frustrated. We weren’t getting any closer to resolving the situation. I had to do something.”
For Cutrone, that “something” was cc’ing their direct supervisor. “It really felt like the right thing to do. The way I saw it, he would see what was happening, step in and make the decision we were unable to make. End of argument.”
Wrong. Unfortunately, Cutrone’s “cc’ing up” was a bad career move. Her coworker was furious and her supervisor was not just let in on a revealing email chain, but saw Cutrone’s decision to do so as both self-serving and immature. Shortly after, Cutrone left the company, embarrassed, she says, but much wiser.
A decision she made with the best intentions had been perceived as the worst. Instead of efficient, she was seen as undermining. Instead of gracious, petty. According to experts, she’s not alone. Email makes up the majority of our daily communication—especially in business. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of employed adults (62%) use the internet or email in the workplace. And yet social cues and etiquette are often overlooked.