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Want to Alienate me? “CC” my boss on your email!

Dear Stephen,

I am a sales rep for a big furniture manufacturer in Michigan (Go Blue!). We have strong relationships with our dealers, and there is mutual respect. But nothing steams me more than an email to me about a simple subject, a lead time or a discount, where a dealer salesperson decides to CC his boss and then my boss, and often it does not even stop with my boss, but to my bosses' boss at HQ in Michigan!

No one likes to get an email like that. It's so counterproductive. And dumb.

Yes, I know you would say I am dealer dumping, but it seems they like this is a technique they often employ. As annoying as it is to me, it's a double eye roll from my boss. Not effective, alienating to me, and usually alienating to everyone copied on the letter. Everyone is then cautious about future interaction with the person. And of course, you know someone at HQ is thinking, "there go those big cities, bullying dealers again".

To me, this tactic is off-putting, it is immature, it displays a tattletale mentality, and, well, I just never deal with the same person again if I can avoid it. Although, inevitably, our paths will cross again and I must deal with them, but boy have they turned me against them and I #pity them.

What's your take on people who want to "CC the world"?


CC Victim!


Dear CCV,

I hear you. Concerning dealer salespeople, in their defense, dealer folks are sometimes unfamiliar with the operational and political protocol of big corporations, hence the eyeroll. Today it's a power play for anyone to send a letter, mostly when it is a complaint, and with worldwide copies. Much like sounding off on social media about a late airline flight or bad service at a restaurant - everyone is now a critic. It's a passive-aggressive way to be a bully, and the sender of these "CC" emails does not realize how obvious their intent is to everyone, which then diminishes the intended purpose of the email. The person comes across as that crazy angry dealer person, which is not good. Crazy is never good.

Trust me, it has happened to me too. People have copied my bosses while complaining about me. Here is the thing I have learned - to try not to let it isolate me from the email writer. Sometimes I have learned from it because maybe I have not responded in a way the writer knew I was paying attention. Was I taking someone's complaint or concern seriously enough? Apparently not, if they had to complain to me, and at the same time the people above me.

Here is what I do, and it is my advice to you. I go back to the person who copied the world and ask them what their intent was. Directly, verbally, ask them, by phone or in person: Was it to get my attention or my ire? To get me in trouble, to embarrass me, or just an attempt to motivate me. Was there a reason they could not have just called me and discussed the problem? Usually, they get the message I want to help, and I clear the air. And more than once I have even apologized. Hey, we all make mistakes.

In your case, why not find out why the dealer rep felt that they needed to copy HQ. Ask them directly, is this CC-ing HQ really an effective way to pinpoint a shipping date, or perhaps secure a bigger discount? Maybe they were not trying to embarrass you, but maybe you are just not responding to their emails. Was there something you missed? Is it a history of slow answers from HQ? With all the money that manufacturers are spending on the "#CustomerExperience" and hiring people with that title, they should want to get it right. And I have news for you, a dealer sales rep is as much a customer as the end-user and the A&D firm. So, learn why someone did this, trust me, you will be happy that you did.

Here is a job-related tip on this same subject having to do with interviewing for a job. Do not, I repeat, do not OVER COPY people on thank you or follow-up emails when you are interviewing. If you interview with more than one person on a TEAMS call, or an in-person interview, then it's fine that they all get a "thank you" email. If you interview with different people at different times and it seems like a long time before you've heard back, do not copy everyone in a new email. Send an email to each person or maybe just email the 1 main decision-maker. Better yet, a quick text is best to ONE person. That is the new normal. I never thought I'd say this, but yes, texting is now an accepted (maybe preferred) form of business communication. Even when interviewing!

Do yourself a favor, go back to the dealer salesperson who wrote the annoying email to you and cc-ed western Michigan. Talk with them and ask what gives, because you should not let this ruin your relationship. You are stuck with the dealer and their salespeople. Make it work, and you can, by asking them directly what their intent was, it will make this go away. I promise. Here is your script to be delivered in person or over the phone:

"Hi Debbie Dealer, we got your email, so did my boss and so did his boss back in Michigan. We got the message, but sending an email blast is not part of our culture, Deb. Believe me, I always want to resolve your problems, so here is my cell number so you can text me directly next time. I promise to respond straight away."

Try it!