I had a question in regards to paying compensation to a customer. However, I emailed a group of colleagues (who had lots of expertise in the area) instead of a supervisor.

He then blatantly asked why we didn't email him, and instead emailed the group of colleagues?

How can workers respond to this situation?

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    Tell him why you didn't include him? It seems the obvious answer, but maybe I'm missing something? – Erik May 7 '17 at 6:28
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    @Erik I don't want to say he's 'useless' but his responses always don't help the situation. For example, I emailed him once before in regards to a question, and checked the manual many times to ensure the answer wasn't in there. As well as this, I asked my colleagues to consult the manual to to see if they could find anything. They couldn't. So I emailed him, and his reply was: Dear Debbie, Are you sure it is not in the manual? Regards, J -- But I am certain it is not in the manual, and my colleagues also know it is not in the manual :) – Debbie Williams May 7 '17 at 7:03
  • Some managers feel the need to "be involved" even if most of the time they don't need to be. Just loop him into the email and ignore his replies if they aren't relevant. (Surely the occasional response WILL be helpful, and keeping him in the loop helps prevent accusations of "unauthorized activity" on your part.) – Steve-O May 7 '17 at 13:26

Apologise for your error and assure him/her that you will keep them in the loop in future.

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    This. The other answers are reading too much into the scenario. An occasional unwitting transgression is no big deal, especially if one is dealing with prickly people, best to apologize and move on. – teego1967 May 7 '17 at 11:40
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    Agreed. If your boss is touchy about this, make sure to always include him in (at least) cc on topics like this. – Llewellyn May 7 '17 at 16:31

In the future, you can always send an email to your boss in such a situation, do what he tells you no matter what nonsense it is - and keep very good notes that you took action based on his request.

In this particular case, you can tell him "I emailed X because X has a lot of experience with this kind of situation, and I didn't want to bother you".


If possible, it's probably worth taking exchanges like this offline if you didn't in this case: speak to him either in person or on the phone (if you can't get a meeting). As you posted six days ago, I'm hoping it's already blown over. If so, leave it but do that if it happens again.

This was clearly an emotionally charged exchange – something that one-way communication methods like email or messaging systems are very bad for. It's so hard to convey nuance in email, partly because it's devoid of cues like facial expressions or intonation; and partly because it's slow and sequential (ie you write, they write, and so on). As a result, it tends to polarise exchanges and – where emotions are involved – drive people to eventually take extreme positions.

So many issues can be solved by a quick chat. He would have been better responding to you like that in the first place. (He was upset but responded by email – and now you're upset, which illustrates my point.) But you should be able to take the heat out of the situation (next time) by walking and talking.

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