In his discussions of building dams with the Navajo as a young white man in the 1930s (West of th Thirties), E.T. Hall describes how he had to adapt to the ways that were culturally acceptable to the them. As a white manager, and as a young man, he started off coming onto the site noisily, slamming the car door and generally being “bossy”. The Navajo responded with stone coldness. “I could live or die, and it wouldn’t have made a particle of difference,” he writes.
He then adapted to their culture, coming onto the site quietly, letting workers adjust to his being there, and then talking to them without looking them in the eye. He attributes this to his “high adaptability factor” which enabled him to adapt to the ways of the people he worked with.
He also later became an accomplished anthropologist.
My question: Is high adaptability simply a personality trait or is it also a function of your own time horizon or Stratum? I know that Stan Smith (of Sustainable Organization and Human Patterns) has a personality test to determine whether or not someone can make it in a foreign culture, a function of adaptability. But I wonder if some of the experience is Mode related. I could go both ways right now, arguing either side fairly successfully.
From the one hand, we can all think of people who are “floaters”, who do well in any group. The steel mills here in NW Indiana relied on them to smooth out relations between the various ethnic groups. Ronald S. Burt at the U. of Chicago reports on a network analysis of a high school that found that a single young man was responsible for the connections between the various factions. That seems to indicate a general personality type.