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Imagine you’ve been experiencing a mysterious pain and you go to your doctor for testing. Understandably, you feel nervous when you go in to hear the results. Your doctor greets you, arms crossed; when you sit down, she settles behind her computer with her eyes focused on the monitor, telling you matter-of-factly that you’ll need surgery. You express trepidation at the idea of being anesthetized. Your doctor, now standing by the door and glancing at her watch, explains that the procedure is routine. How would you feel after this interaction?

Now imagine a second scenario: Your doctor says the same things, but this time her body language is noticeably different. She greets you with an outstretched hand and a smile. She sits down, faces you and maintains eye contact. When you express anxiety, her eyebrows soften and her face looks caring.

Think over both of these versions of the interaction. In which interaction is your doctor being nicer? We suspect nearly everyone would say the second. But in which is she doing a better job?

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Scientific American

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