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The Esteem Ladder

May 17, 2012
Charles Laquidara , The Maui Weekly

I don't know if anyone else ever thinks about this, but for some unknown reason, I started wondering...

Just as happens every day, you're walking along the beach or along the road or in a store, and you see people passing you by--how do you perceive them as this pass occurs?

In other words, did they start off as a ten or as a two in terms of how you subconsciously (or consciously) appraised them?

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The Esteem Ladder

Some people I questioned about this said that as soon as they see someone, they automatically give them a high grade and assume that the passerby could be VIP, a potentially great human being, a CEO, a wonderful dad, a fantastic spouse, talented writer, artist or a terrific athlete.

Others said (I being one of them) that they always start with a zero and work their way up; people have to prove themselves before they are raised in the "esteem" ladder.

This negative characterization may actually be a "northern" or an "East Coast" thing. (From my experience, I am guessing Canadians don't normally downgrade, but New Yorkers and Bostonians? Having grown up in Boston, I confess--guilty as charged.)

I'm sure if everyone reading this took a poll, they would automatically answer, "Oh no--I always look at people in a positive way before I get to know them!"

But next time you're out there and you see a humanoid approaching, check yourself out as they go by and ask, was the glass half full or half empty? Were they a VIP right away, or did they have to earn it?

And don't lie. If you say you imagined them conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, I'm not sure I believe you.

This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui for over 11 years. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years as host of "The Big Mattress" and is occasionally heard on Mana'o Radio. Email For more information, visit



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