Killing 'em with (un)kindness

If you're like a lot of folks, your doc is about as cuddly as a porcupine and grunts his way through your appointments like an angry grizzly bear.

Too many doctors can barely bother to say hello before they start poking, prodding and rushing their way through an appointment like they have a plane to catch. You'd think they were charging you by the word!

And if you've been enduring your doctor's dysfunctional bedside manner for years, convinced that deep down he's a quality physician, you may be giving him too much credit -- and not giving yourself enough.

A new University of Iowa study proves that having a friendly doctor isn't just a luxury -- it could be a matter of life and death. Researchers analyzed studies from around the world and found that whether your doctor chats you up in English, Japanese or Swahili, his good communications skills could result in your good health.

In fact, doctors who received training in honing their people skills -- and lots of them need it -- were much more effective at helping you lose weight, control your blood pressure, and manage pain. We're talking about basic conversational skills, like maintaining eye contact and listening to your concerns.

As long as you're cutting him checks, your doctor works for you -- and don't ever let him forget it. If he can't give you the basic respect you'd expect from a colleague, do yourself a favor and seek your medical attention elsewhere.

It's not just a matter of standing up for basic manners in a world that seems to have forgotten them -- this is one move that could save your life.