What is the the proper Email Etiquette when forwarding business emails that were sent to you, to a third party? Do you simply Cc: the original Sender? Unfortunately, Cc’ing the original sender when forwarding their email doesn’t negate asking for permission to do so.
What if that information is for your eyes only? What if the Sender had no intention of you broadcasting their comments?
Always Ask Before Forwarding?
I can hear the opposition — “I don’t want them to know I am forwarding their email!” Well, that tells me the Sender may not appreciate why or who you are forwarding to. Which means you need to look at your motives for doing so. Otherwise, why wouldn’t you ask if it is okay to forward or let them know “I’ll be forwarding your email to so and so for their comment and review — is that okay?”
If you do not feel comfortable asking that question, you are being either an e-gossip or e-tattler! We all know people who forward other’s emails while adding their own comments. This type of behavior certainly isn’t professional and can easily backfire on you.
It happens all the time. Emails sent specifically to one person, end up getting forwarded to others. Even though it happens all the time, just like many other misconceptions about the online arena and email, that doesn’t mean that it is good practice.
Particularly in business this may cause others to wonder what else you may not be trusted with. To be safe consider all emails for your eyes only unless stated otherwise.
No Matter The Intentions
Intentions do not make a difference either. If you are forwarding to help (or to harm) doesn’t make the forwarding in of itself okay. If you feel forwarding an email to another party can help the person who sent it to you, simply ask their permission to do so letting them know what you hope to accomplish.
Emails are copyright protected by the author at the moment they are created. That’s just how copyright works with written and creative works. To forward, publish or post without the original author’s permission is copyright infringement.
Think about it… When you send an email to someone, you are sending it to them — not to anyone they want to send to or expose your commentary to.
This goes for coworkers in the office too! In the workplace forwarding coworkers emails without their knowledge or permission can cause you to be viewed as petty or untrustworthy depending on your motives for doing so. This is called a diminished career path.
By asking before forwarding you will show you can be trusted and that the Sender has your confidence. In business you want to be known as a trustworthy coworker, partner or associate, right? Without trust; then what do you have?