1. When you cc the boss
Recent research from a study at Cambridge Judge, reports how damaging cc’ing the boss can be to fostering workplace trust between co-workers. The reports says it creates a:
“culture of fear and low psychological safety,
Professor David de Cremer also suggests it can “backfire.” The study focused on 900 or more office workers in the US, UK, China and the Netherlands and suggests how guidelines and policy are needed to reduce potential conflict in the workplace caused be email or any other form of electronic communication.
One network connection told me that shortly after reading about this research, she was part of an email chain where she observed some passive aggressive behaviour and power playing from one of the women in the chain. The woman had told the recipient that she was cc’ing the boss (name withheld here) about their conversation. It was a workplace poinsonous dart, intended to stop the recipient in her tracks and the equivalent of the school yard “I’m telling teacher on you.” What it achieved was making the sender look foolish, small minded and probably bitchy.
The ultimate nail in the workplace trust coffin is the blind cc to the boss. If the sender finds out that the boss has been covertly involved, then any possibility of good working relationships are seriously damaged.
Read: Email management tips from millionaires
2. Failure to respond
Waiting for a response can destroy trust
Another form of passive email aggression is failure to respond. This leaves the sender unsure of whether there has been a cyebr glitch, the mail went into a spam folder, the person is busy/sick/dead, or there is a problem with the content.
It creates ambiguity and uncertainty which further fuels a culture of distrust. Sometimes people fail to respond because they don’t want to deliver bad news, even though everyone says that no news is worse than bad news.
Within that sub-section is failing to respond to the specific question or address an issue that is out there which might be sensitive or an area of potential disagreement.
Hiding behind technology to be mean, rather than having a direct conversation with someone is also becoming increasingly common. Women who are raised to be more conflict avoiding, run the risk of falling into the trap more frequently than men. Nathan Feiles says in his post “Hiding behind Technology to be Mean”