Making A First Impression!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 11, Number 8

August is family fun month. Although school starts next week here in Florida, it is important to remember how significant family is and the time spent with them. Try to find some time this weekend to be with and talk with family members. Children grow up all too fast and leave to start their own families. Doing things together can make for great memories as well as setting the model for your children and their eventual families. So we suggest that you and your children put down your electronics and find fun things to do together before they grow up.

This month’s E-Letter focuses on Making a First Impression. This handout can be downloaded from our E-Letters tab on our website. Our email of the month is about what many of us may remember, The Black Telephone, and our Ask the Doc question is about pre-teen peer acceptance. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the many comments we have received.

Practice News

New Associate. We are pleased to announce that Paul Dolnick, LMHC, has joined our practice. Paul is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Nationally Board Certified Counselor who has been providing psychotherapeutic and psycho-educational services to children and their families in South Florida for 34 years. As a senior psychometrist he has conducted hundreds of psychoeducational assessments. You can read more about Paul’s background elsewhere on our website.

Testings. If you are concerned about your child’s school placement for the next school year, this would be an excellent time to have them evaluated. Typical parent questions have ranged from should their child be retained to whether they are gifted to whether they have a disability that can qualify for accommodations at their school. Our practice does the different types of evaluations to help answer those questions and information about them can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel or Paul Dolnick.

Depression groups. Our ongoing weekly depression therapy groups have been quite successful. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Afterschool Tutoring. Tutoring for students in grades 1 through 8 is being offered after school and over the summer in our offices. Jill Kimmel, an experienced educator, will be helping students to understand and learn their academic concepts as well as provide assistance in doing homework. To find out more about our tutoring services as well as to schedule an appointment, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on First Impressions and their importance. First impressions have been defined as the mental image a person forms when they meet or see someone. It happens quickly as it takes just one-tenth of one second for us to judge that person. The accuracy of our first impression depends upon behavior, race, culture, language, gender, clothing, physical appearance, eye contact, and tone of voice of the person. Our first impression of that person frequently determines how we relate to them.

First impressions can be highly inaccurate since they are often determined by stereotypes. How quickly we are to judge those who wear certain label clothing. Just consider your own reaction to someone you know who is wearing a label such as Gucci or Fendi than those who are wearing a K-Mart brand. Does your behavior change and more importantly, why? Positive first impressions can lead to the formation of relationships while negative first impressions can lead to prejudice, discrimination, and rejection of the person.

First impressions can also be affected by the number of other people who share or disagree with your judgment. The more who agree with your opinion, the stronger it becomes. And isn’t this a technique that the media and politicians use to spin their candidate so that you will have a favorable impression of them. After all isn’t that what polling does? And isn’t speed dating built on first impressions?

First impressions can also be influenced by the halo effect. This occurs when we perceive one positive area in a person and we think that it will generalize to all areas. Because a person may dress well, we think they are a good person. We tend to judge a book by its cover even though we know better. Our judgments can be so strong that they can override facts and knowledge. Consider the investors of Bernie Madoff. Their positive impression led them to keep their investments with him even though the facts showed otherwise.

Studies presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2014 showed that impressions determine whether we will ultimately like someone, what their sexual orientation is, and whether they were trustworthy or not. In addition, impressions made online tend to be more negative than those made face-to-face.

Other studies have found that women who wore makeup, but not too much, were judged as being more likable, capable, and trustworthy that those who wore no makeup. A bad first impression can lead to psychological issues of low self-esteem, rejection, withdrawal, pessimism, depression, and social anxiety. It can also affect your confidence in your job performance and inhibit you from advancing in your career.

In making a good first impression, be aware of some specific factors. How you make a person feel, whether they get some benefit by meeting you, and what kind of mood you are in will all contribute to making a good impression. More specifically, to make a good first impression, recognize that the other person will be judging you very quickly. Dress appropriately and be well groomed to show you have certain standards for yourself. Be aware of the nonverbal cues you send such as how you stand, whether you make eye contact, what is the tone of your voice, are you rushed, do you show disinterest. Present yourself as the best you can be. If this is a professional meeting, know a little about the person you are meeting. Show interest in the other person and try to make them feel important. Determine how you want to present yourself and most importantly like yourself and be confident.

We offer the following information on Making A First Impression (Download the following from our E-Letter page on our website.)

Charm was a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind…                                                                                                                       Kurt Vonnegut


  • First impressions refers to the mental image and judgment a person makes when they first meet another person
  • You never get a second chance to make a first impression… has been attributed to Will Rogers or Oscar Wilde and others
  • First impressions can be highly inaccurate and depends on physical appearance, gender, culture, voice, dress, background and other factors
  • Also affecting first impressions is the number of other people who share or disagree with your judgment, the more who agree, the stronger your opinion
  • First impressions are often determined by stereotypes; does she shop at K-Mart or at Saks or what other brand labels is she wearing?
  • People are quick to judge others and research shows that it takes just one-tenth of a second to form a first impression
  • People can and will treat other people differently based on their first impressions
  • Positive first impressions can lead to good relating while negative first impressions can lead to rejection, discrimination, and prejudice
  • First impressions tend to be stable but can change based on more social interactions
  • The halo effect in first impressions refers to judging a person to have positive qualities in one area and that it will generalize to positive qualities in other areas
  • Judgments about people are very powerful and they can override facts and knowledge; we tend to judge a book by its cover even though we know better
  • Research also shows that how people categorized faces was a good predictor of whether they thought the person was trustworthy despite conflicting hard evidence
  • Studies have also found that women with makeup, but not too much, were judged as being more likable, competent, and trustworthy than those who wore no makeup
  • A negative first impression can lead to rejection, withdrawal, low self-esteem, pessimism, limited job advancement, depression, and social anxiety
  • Factors that go into making a good first impressions include: how you make them feel, when they benefit by meeting you, and what kind of mood you are in
  • First impressions from online encounters are often more negative that a face to face encounter
  • People tending to remember only first and last impressions accounts for why speed dating has become popular


  • To make a good first impression when meeting others
    • dress appropriately and be well groomed
    • be aware of you nonverbal cues such as eye contact, discomfort, stance, tone
    • be the best you can be
    • know who you will be meeting
    • listen to and show interest in others
    • be confident and relax yourself
    • prepare for meetings and determine how you want to present yourself
  • Seek professional help if you are depressed/anxious regarding making a first impression
    Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at

    Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
    5571 N University Drive, Suite 101
    Coral Springs FL 33067
    Copyright © 2016; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

    As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

    Ask The Doc

    JS writes: My 12-year-old daughter is having a hard time with her friends. Sometimes she is asked to hang out with them and at other times, she is ignored. She gets very upset when this happens. She has tried to invite her friends over but usually only one or two show up. She thinks they talk about her behind her back but she will drop what she is doing if they text her to come over. Often she checks her phone and there are no texts. She spends a lot of time crying and it breaks my heart. What can I do?

    Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: Preteen and teenage years can be quite difficult for children as it is the time they transition from children to adults. Peer relationships are extremely important during this time as they help define your daughter’s sense of identity. What you have described is not atypical for her age group, especially for girls. Obviously, being accepted by friends is extremely important. The good news is that she is accepted by her friends. The bad news is that it is only sometimes.

    You might want to consider why your daughter is so dependent upon her friends for their approval. Is there family or other reasons why she needs to be included? Does she have a history of frustration or failure that might lead to low self-esteem? Does she have siblings who are successful socially or academically? There may be some reason that peer inclusion is so important that it will “make her drop what she is doing”.

    It would be a good idea to talk with your daughter and listen to what she says about herself and her friends. Perhaps in this discussion you can find out what is so important about them and why your daughter needs to be included. It is also important for you to meet and know who they are. Despite what you might think, do not criticize them to her. Continue to talk with her about why they are so important. Help her to understand who she is and support her decision making based on what she thinks and not what others think. Let her know that her independence and who she is is more important than being part of a group. Discuss with her what she has in common and not in common with her friends and who she wants to be.

    Certain books about peer relationships can also be quite helpful for her to understand what happens during this time in her life. “Peer Pressure vs. True Friendship! Surviving Junior High” or “The Teen Girl’s Survival Guide: Ten Tips for Making Friends, Avoiding Drama, and Coping with Social Stress” have received good reviews online.

    What is most important is for you to keep the lines of communication open, to know who her friends are, and to educate her about what to expect during this time in her life. Good luck.

    Email of the Month

    We would like to thank Robert P. for the following email:

    The Black Telephone!

    When I was a young boy, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box….. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to it.

    Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person. Her name was “Information Please” and there was nothing she did not know. “Information Please” could supply anyone’s number and the correct time.

    My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway.

    The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear. “Information, please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head.

    A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear. “Information.”

    “I hurt my finger…” I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

    “Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.

    “Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered.

    “Are you bleeding?” the voice asked

    “No, “I replied.”I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”

    “Can you open the icebox?” she asked.

    I said I could.

    “Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice.

    After that, I called “Information Please” for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was.

    She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

    Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, “Information Please,” and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

    She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, “Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.”

    Somehow I felt better.

    Another day I was on the telephone, “Information Please.”

    “Information,” said in the now familiar voice.

    “How do I spell fix?” I asked.

    All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest.

    When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much.

    “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me.

    Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

    A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown operator and said, “Information Please.”

    Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well.


    I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

    There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.”

    I laughed, “So it’s really you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?”

    “I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.”

    I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

    “Please do,” she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

    Three months later I was back in Seattle.

    A different voice answered, “Information.”

    I asked for Sally.

    “Are you a friend?” she said.

    “Yes, a very old friend,” I answered.

    “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” She said. “Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

    Before I could hang up, she said, “Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne?” ”

    “Yes.” I answered.

    “Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.” The note said, “Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.”

    I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

    Never underestimate the impression you may make on others. Whose life have you touched today?

    Till September…

    The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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    If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2016 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.