Monday Business Term: CYA email

You’d think this topic is a typo and this week’s business term has something to do with CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), but alas! It is not a typo. But hang on: we’ll send you an email confirming that information, just to confirm our mutual understanding…

Right, so the above opening line appears often in what is actually called a “cover-your-ass” email, or CYA for short. In a nutshell, it’s a type of communication that serves literally no other purpose than to document that you’ve done something. If someone (usually your boss) asks, your behind is well covered – you can show this email and prove that you are not to blame, you did your due diligence and sent an all-important communique.

This is usually done just in case what you’d talked about (e.g. on the phone or an online call) was not clearly confirmed. Or if you need a firmer statement of action while you are waiting for something to be done or some product to be delivered. If there is no response, you can lay the blame at someone else’s butt…. I mean, gate.

But why would anyone’s buttocks need covering? Surely in the Covid era trust should be always expected in a professional setting? Well, yes and no. It’s easy to mark CYA as something evil, the type of attitude that is toxic to others, as it promotes a culture where you need to confirm, reconfirm and re-ascertain every little decision so that someone is always accountable for any delay or non-delivery. It clearly impacts productivity. However, some claim it can be useful. For instance, in many cultures agreement to something may fall somewhere between a clear “yes, I agree” and a vague “we’ll think about it”. Because of this vagueness, many people send additional communication just to acknowledge agreement or check if it was really mutual. This helps multiple cultures working together to be on the same page (literal and figurative in this case).

So CYA may not always be done in order to avoid possible punishment or to show lack of faith in our counterpart’s ability to deliver… Sometimes this is a necessary evil if you are working across time zones and different sensibilities. And at other times, when it’s just you and 3 other blokes sat behind neighbouring desks at a small company, it’s just a(r)sinine behaviour


CYA (cover-your-ass) email – e-mail „dupokryjka”
typo – literówka
alas! – niestety (arch.)
hang on! – hola, chwila!
to confirm sth – potwierdzić coś
mutual – wzajemny, wspólny
opening line – pierwsza linijka (listu)
X for short – skrótowo X, w skrócie – X
in a nutshell – w skrócie
literally – dosłownie
to serve a purpose – posłużyć (czemuś), mieć (jakiś) cel
behind – zadek, tyłek
to cover sth – osłonić coś, zakryć
sb is not to blame – ktoś nie jest winny, kogoś nie należy winić
to do one’s due diligence – dopełnić należytej staranności
all-important – arcyważny
communique – wiadomość, przekaz
firm – stanowczy, wyraźny
response – odpowiedź, reakcja
butt – tyłek, pupa
to lay the blame at sb’s doorstep (gate) – obwinić kogoś o coś
buttocks – pośladki
surely – z pewnością
professional setting – tu: kontekst pracy, środowisko zawodowe
to mark sth as sth – określić coś czymś, uznać coś za jakieś
evil – zło
attitude – nastawienie, podejście
to promote sth – promować coś, krzewić
to ascertain sth – ustalić coś
accountable for sth – odpowiedzialny za coś, odpowiadający za coś
delay – opóźnienie
non-delivery – niewywiązanie się z umowy (dostarczenia produktu lub usługi)
vague – mglisty, niejednoznaczny
to acknowledge sth – potwierdzić coś
to be on the same page – być zgodnym (z kimś), rozumieć się (dobrze z kimś)
figurative – w przenośni
punishment – kara
faith – wiara
counterpart – (czyjś) odpowiednik, tu: rozmówca
necessary evil – zło konieczne
time zone – strefa czasowa
sensibility – wrażliwość
bloke – koleś (UK)
asinine – idiotyczny, durny
behaviour – zachowanie (UK)

by Prochor Aniszczuk

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