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What You Emailed Us About Using The 'ACC'

We're still combing through all your emails about the acc.
We're still combing through all your emails about the acc.

This morning, I griped about the acc, our newly coined name for the practice of copying a third party on an existing email chain to undermine or pull rank on the original recipient. (The A can stand for angry, awkward, annoying ... or other A-words you might be thinking of ...)

You all have responded with an avalanche of email. In fact, I don't think I've ever received more email responses to anything I've written. A sample of what you had to say:

Robert from Florida says he has to use the acc as a form of "CYA":

"I agree that there is a passive-aggressive element to doing this, and maybe even a 'throwing someone under the bus' element as well. Sometimes I do it to protect myself from my boss coming back and saying 'why didn't you let me know'. This is CYA --'covering your a**.' Sometimes the sales people respond to my e-mail with a phone call, leaving me with no e-trail for future CYA."

Traci, who works in health care, questions whether the acc is a no-no, saying sometimes you have to escalate over email to get your issue addressed:

"One always hopes that the person they are communicating with will be responsive and professional, but unfortunately that is not always the case, and occasionally intervention from 'above' is needed. Anyone who asks to 'speak your supervisor' on the phone with an unhelpful customer service representative, or looks for a manager when there is a problem at a store or restaurant is doing the same thing. It's not annoying. It is expected that you would follow the chain of command when someone isn't doing their job."

Rod, a director and producer, says he has no choice but to use the acc in his line of work.

"In my industry, I have a list of people that are prepared to be the person I randomly add as a CC on messages. This way, the person I'm writing can't ignore the message, or not answer my questions. If they don't, they'll know that there's someone else on the e-mail chain that will see that they aren't doing their job, or at least aren't being professional. Yes, they're guilted into responding. But the bigger issue is why people don't do their jobs, and reply to e-mails in the first place. If people did ... and if they answered the questions asked of them, there would be no need for an 'acc.' "

And a woman who wishes to remain nameless writes of her personal experience:

"The practice of cc'ing third parties was used a lot by my ex in our divorce discussions, dragging in his whole family who were then forced to take sides or email him, saying 'we really don't want to be involved in this!'... so it goes on everywhere!"

Peter from New Jersey says to keep it simple: "The rule we really need is 'Don't be a jerk.' "

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.
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