Avoiding the Dreaded Unintentional Reply All

To, Cc, Bcc, and Reply All: The New Measures of Inclusion

Erica Dhawan
5 min readDec 7, 2021


Photo: christinhumephoto/Unsplash

Picture This: You’re sitting in your office; you get an email from your boss’ boss letting everyone know that today is your arch nemesis’ last day. She finally got the boot, though he doesn’t say that. He lets everyone know to wrap up projects with her by the end of the day. You’re so excited that you immediately move to Slack and type “YES SHE GOT FIRED!!!!” and hit send. In that moment, you realize you were typing in the wrong Slack thread and you’ve sent your jubilation to the team-wide slack, which includes Mrs. Arch nemesis.” Oops.

In my new book Digital Body Language, there are a few rules to know when to use the CC, BCC and Reply All.

Think of your digital communication as a sporting event. You and whoever else in the To: box are the athletes. If you don’t CC or BCC anyone, you’re just practicing, rallying before a match, or throwing the ball around with a friend. When you add observers to the CC, suddenly other people begin to fill the stands. Add more people to the BCC, and you’re now swelling the VIP box seats with scouts, coaches, and recruiters. From here, the stakes go up. If you choose to Reply Only to the other athlete, you’re having a private conversation no one else can hear, whereas Reply All is equivalent to a booming voice coming in the overhead speakers that the entire stadium can hear.

A Cc is really saying, “I want everyone attached to know that I am not playing with you.”

A Bcc is really saying, “I want the higher-ups to know I am not playing with you and that you actually play too much.”

A Reply All is really saying, “I expect everyone to play.”

Reply Alls, Ccs, and Bccs are necessary in most workplaces, but ask yourself who really needs to be included. Here are a few digital body language best practices to foster inclusion and understanding, regardless of the situation:

Reply Alls — When it Works and When it Doesn’t



Erica Dhawan

Keynote Speaker on 21st Century Teamwork and Innovation. Author, GET BIG THINGS DONE and DIGITAL BODY LANGUAGE (ORDER HERE: http://bit.ly/3avbJkg)