Ask LH: How Can I Stop My Sycophantic Colleague From CC'ing The Boss On Every Email?

Dear Lifehacker, What should I do when a co-worker continually copies all their managers in all email communications? It comes off as though they are trying to make me seem bad in front of the bosses because they ignore what I have told them in person and ask question after question that I have already answered.

It is really beginning to frustrate me to the point I am ready to send an abusive email in response but I suspect that is exactly what they are trying to get me to do. The worst part of all is that this person is very close to the bosses so in their eyes they can do no wrong. Please help before I do something I shouldn't!

Thanks Email Victim

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Dear EV,

Sending an abusive email is akin to kicking a hornets' nest. No good can come from it and it has the potential to make you look like the bad guy. Plus, it will make things horribly awkward with your co-worker moving forward, which obviously isn't ideal.

You can find some general tips on dealing with annoying co-workers here, here and here. You might also want to try out some stress-relieving hacks to retain your sanity.

If you suspect your colleague has nefarious motives, it might be worth keeping a work diary of your interactions with them. That way, you'll have a paper trail pinning him/her to any meetings that they claim never happened.

Also, be sure to mention in all your replies that the issue has already been discussed (e.g. -- "as I explained during this morning's meeting..."). Naturally, keep your boss CC'd into the conversation while doing so: if the string of emails annoy him, it will be your colleague's fault for needlessly adding him in the first place. Win-win!

On a final note, you should take solace in the fact that slimy office rivals can usually be safely ignored. As long we you're performing in your role and going above and beyond the call of duty, there should be absolutely nothing to worry about. In short, do your job and their tricks can't touch you.

We're also keen to hear what readers think. If you have any better ideas, let EV know in the comments section below.

See also: The Worst Coworkers And Workplace Annoyances (And How To Deal With Them) | Three Mental Tricks To Deal With People Who Annoy You

Cheers Lifehacker

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    If you are concerned because you are answering questions and assuming work is being done and then they are making it look like you are holding things up then you should document all those items.
    If she asks questions you can quickly answer and then shoot an email across, just to ensure I was clear the answer to your questions is ...............................
    Then if she cc your boss and asks the same thing again to blame you for a delay just reply and attached the previous email

    Grow some balls - confront your coworker and tell them you have a problem with their behavior ... sending an email is cowardly and ineffective.

      Will ovaries work too? ;-)

    I've come across this two fold. Some managers micro manage and may have asked the co-worker to CC them in every email that goes out. Alternatively they may CC their managers to make it seem like they are busy and on top of things.
    If it's an issue talk to them directly in person or call them, you hardly wanting them CC'ing their response to you from an email you sent.

    You could also take the front foot, and ask your boss do they mind having all these emails CC'd to them? Quite often they do mind when it's brought to their attention about how such actions, slow your own work down having to then answer the other managers as well.

    I'd have a talk with the coworker, because in my experience these issues don't disappear on their own unless the person is a clear non-performer and destined to be leaving soon.

    Letting it go longer risks it being entrenched as "the way it is" and having others accept it as the norm rather than a bizarre exception.

    That kind of insidious brown-nosing via CC is one of the most annoying things in the corporate world. It's also used to make weak excuses or passive-aggressively cast blame.

    It's not just coworkers who will do this. Clients and service providers continuously CC important people into mails where they ask stupid questions about things which have already been covered as a stalling tactic or a passive-aggressive complaint about your service. The answer is pretty much always to reply with, "As already discussed," or, "Per my previous email..." and CC the Very Important People - plus your own Very Important People, so that they can get the subtle hint and bring it up with the other party's VIPs to tell them to quit stalling.

    Other good cues are, "Given the time-critical nature of this project, I'd be more than happy to answer questions over the phone if there's anything you don't understand in future; we can't afford many more [x number of days] delays like this," or a subtle reminder that the deadline remains the same, no matter what their bullshit excuse was. Puts the responsibility for any delays on them.

    Those are the kinds of things your passive-aggressive little time-waster doesn't want their bosses seeing, and you'll often find their responses start to drop the boss out of the CC when they're subtly begging for time/understanding/making ridiculous excuses, so they can go through damage control with their boss separately.
    It helps to continue CCing the original recipients when replying to their pathetic responses, if they're a serial offender/haven't got the message/you really want to twist the knife.

    It sucks that the OP doesn't have a boss of their own to go into bat for them, but I reckon enough replies of, "As we've already discussed," or, "As we all agreed in last month's team meeting, the process is now," or, "If you'll refer to my mail last week (attached), where I said..." your boss will pretty quickly start to get the impression that the pest is incompetent. Unfortunately, this only works well if you can always win on those points.

    Last edited 16/04/14 8:56 pm

    Oooo please cover the "Calling you up 5 seconds after I sent you an urgent email, to tell you
    I have sent you an URGENT email" person next! Pretty please!
    I am dealing with one of those people on a daily basis in my recent job.

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