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‘Why Dolphins do not e-mail’

musical notesAt a young age Francisco Tarrega-Eixea lost his eye sight due to an unfortunate incident, just out of reach of his babysitter. So he had to learn new ways to communicate. Franceso was born in Villarreal in 1852, a small town in Spain from a modest background. Both his father Francisco Tarrega-Tirado and his mother Antonia Eixea-Broch were working as housekeepers for the Mothers Clarisse. When he became virtually blind he taught himself to communicate via his music. Through much hardship he became one of the master guitarists at the turn of the century and gave many concerts in Spain and Italy. In the summer of 1902 he wrote his Gran Vals, which has a sequence that is now the most played tune in the world: the Nokia tune. The tune is heard an estimated 1.8 billion times a day or 20,000 times per second. Rarely a simple composition of musical notes could have had a bigger impact, and rarely its origin could have been more obscure.

Recognise the race that starts at 6 o’clock in the morning… the first e-mails coming in from your boss who has worked late last night and from your Eastern based colleagues who just had their first meetings. Answering is first thing on your mind, with little notion of the direct consequence and impact. Recognise people saying to you they take first hour in the morning free to answer e-mails from the night before? Recognise those who have the habit of letting every e-mail being announced by a fugitive ringing bell or flickering light? And those who seem to have an urge to read and answer any e-mail immediately? Certainly I have…

Simple rules could do wonders: think twice if e-mail is the best medium to achieve the results you are after (a telephone call could be more adequate), always remember that your e-mail will cause a reaction (the least it might cause a sigh from the receiver, if not a day’s work), don’t answer e-mails instantaneously as it might spur an endless chain of reactive messages (e-mail is not ‘What’s App’), if something is urgent do not use e-mail (the person might not read it or the server might be down… pick up the phone!) and finally…. do decide when you want to read e-mail (and when not).

‘Why dolphins do not e-mail’, is clearly something to be investigated and understood. There may be several plausible reasons. In any case, they compensate this very well through their strong congregational nature, their social behavior and their direct ways of communication.

Carlo Van-Den Bergh Unilever April 2014