• Rabbi Yehuda Kamenetzky

First Impressions

Dear Parents,

As the school year winds down to a close and the summer is right around the corner, in some way, shape, or form, we all will be meeting new people and presented with new opportunities. Many of you have had life experiences which have taught you the importance of making a good first impression, however your children may not have had the same experiences. I have some thoughts and tips that I have put together for you and your children.

Keep in mind, for the incoming 6th grade and outgoing 8th grade students, this packet can make a crucial difference in their upcoming years as they embark on a journey with a brand new set of hanhala and staff, in which their previous reputation may be overlooked.

Wishing you a happy and safe summer,

Rabbi Yehuda Kamenetzky, M.Ed., NCC

School Counselor

“I’m not judging you!” Yes you are. Let’s face it, we all judge people to some degree. It may be an internal thought or it may be a vocal expression of our thoughts. Either way, we each have a seat at the judge’s bench.

We form these opinions through observing a person’s approach, body language, mannerisms, accent, and the way they dress.

All we need, according to multiple studies, is 3-5 seconds to form a first impression.

So how important are first impressions? Well, it determines if you get that second interview for your dream job or acceptance in the high school, college or university of your choice. A good first impression can mean a new opportunity and who know what happens after that. Making a good first impression can get you a meeting with the senior partners in the private equity firm evaluating your business proposal. First impressions matter.

Here are eight ways which can help you make a positive first impression:

1. SMILE –

A warm smile is a great start to a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. A hiring manager for a successful firm once told me, that when interviewing potential job candidates, the first thing he looks for is a genuine smile. It tells him the person is excited and eager for the chance. However, any overuse of a smile will come off fake and insincere.


Be attentive to the person or person(s). Put down your phone and focus on the person and conversation in front of you. Give yourself 100 percent to that other person. Anything less and you will ruin your chance for a good first impression.


Meeting someone for the first time is not the time to be “fashionably late.” Save that for your high society meetings and events. I always try to arrive a few minutes early. Although, not too early. You don’t want to come off overly eager. Just remember that people are busy and their schedules are usually full. One late appointment will affect the whole day’s schedule. If you’ve ever gone to the doctor, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Being on time is a show of respect. That goes a long way in making a good first impression.


People can smell a fake. They know if you are authentic. Being yourself allows you to be confident and at ease. This can go a long way in making a good first impression. However, you need to remain appropriate for the particular situation and express yourself appropriately.


About 80% of our communication is non-verbal. Stand confidently with your back erect and your shoulders square. Hands to your side and feet spread just inside both shoulders. This is known as the Presidential Stance. Greet each person with a firm (not hard) handshake and make eye contact. Be aware of your nervous habits and move slowly, smoothly and confidently. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both of you to feel at ease.


Be an active listener. The way you achieve this is by asking questions relevant to what the person is saying. This indicates your engagement in the conversation. Resist distraction and resist the temptation of putting yourself first.


My wife and I once went to one of those home improvement stores shopping for a French folding closet door. As we entered the appropriate department, a sales person immediately approached and asked if he could help. We excitedly replied “yes”, and told him what we were looking for. As we began giving him our specifications, his phone rang and he immediately answered it! Without any apology, he began talking and walked away. The best way to show sincere interest in other people is to show them you care and that they are important and have something unique to offer. A sincere interest in people will go a long way in making a good first impression.


Small talk is present in almost every first meeting and although it may feel uncomfortable for a first meeting we must successfully push through it. A person’s ability to maximize the content of small talk can provide very useful information in establishing a connection and a good first impression. Small talk can provide clues for relevant questions that initiate a deeper understanding of that person. How many business deals get off the ground based on attending the same college? Small talk provides those small details that typically have big results!


Making a good impression is simply using common sense and being intuitively aware of the situation in which you find yourself. Develop these eight habits and use them next time you meet someone for the first time. It could be a life-changing event.

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