How do you handle embarrassing situations where you accidentally cc someone on a message not intended for them?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you handle embarrassing situations where you accidentally cc someone on a message not intended for them?

  • I ignore it and hope they never see the message: 5%
  • I try to recall the message full well knowing that might trigger them to read it: 10%
  • I send another message asking them to disregard the errant one: 21%
  • I own up to it and apologize for the situation I've created: 64%

Mess up, fess up. We'll all do it at some point -- inadvertently "reply all" or add someone we didn't intend to add to an email thread. While many of you hope no one notices, the majority (85%) either ask someone to disregard the note or go as far as apologizing for the issue. By ignoring it when you know about it, you could be creating either ill will or at least an air of incompetence. People are generally understanding of email blunders. A genuine apology can go a long way toward mending feelings that might have been hurt or restoring good will between you and the recipient. Be vigilant in maintaining good email habits and, when you do eventually mess up, be quick to fess up and move on.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."