In a recent conversation with one of my clients, they mentioned that they felt the use of the BCc: field was not polite — and sneaky.
This client was referring to an e-mail where he was copied in the BCc: field of an e-mail that was not a mass e-mail and of interest to only a few. This left him wondering who else may have gotten a copy — because they didn’t know he had received a copy also.
Here’s where the not polite sneaky part comes in. “Why wouldn’t you let everyone involved know who you copied if you did not have nefarious motives?” That question caused me to reply with a question. “What was the content of the e-mail?”
Have you found yourself the recipient of e-mail messages where you and possibly other recipients have been listed in the BCc: field, leaving you in the dark about who was or was not included in the message? Isn’t this akin to having a phone conversation on a speakerphone without telling the person you’re calling who else is in the room?
Why was BCc: used?
This is where trying to determine the motive of the Sender’s use of BCc: is the best approach. Is the Sender trying to protect the privacy of their contact’s by not exposing their addresses to others receiving the e-mail whom they may not know? Or, is the Sender quietly letting others know of a conversation with someone else without their knowledge? The latter could be good or bad depending on motives; while the former is the right thing to do.
If the others that were BCc’d do not know each other, putting their e-mail addresses in the BCc: field to protect the privacy of their e-mail address is the proper thing to do. In business however, rare is the occasion where including others in a conversation is something to be hidden. Most do know each other or work together, or at the very least are going to work together — hence them being brought into the conversation.
The question then becomes, what was the Sender’s motive in BCc’ing others on a correspondence so that the primary recipients are not aware of them being included? Think about why you want to BCc: before doing so. The last thing you want to be known for is being sneaky or an “e-Tattler”!