Does someone want to do something for you? Buy you lunch? Give you a gift? Bring something to the dinner?
Be gracious. Don't say, "You don't have to buy me lunch," or "Let me buy you lunch," or "You didn't have to bring that." Humbly accept and grant the donor the pleasure of being a donor.
Lack of graciousness often bespeaks an excess of ego.
We were re-hydrating at a bar in Tortilla Flat, Arizona, after an ankle-busting hike up a stream bed. I offered to buy Alex a drink. Instead of graciously accepting my hospitality, he had the chutzpah to ask me to lend him money so that he could buy me a drink!
Another type of ungraciousness is replying 'Thank you' to 'Thank you.' If I thank you for something, say 'You're welcome,' not 'Thank You.' Graciously acquiesce in the fact that I have done you a favor. Don't try to get the upper hand by thanking me.
I grant that there are situations in which mutual thanking is appropriate.
Some people feel that they must 'reciprocate.' Why exactly? I gave you a little Christmas present because I felt like it. And now you feel you must give me one in return? Is this a tit for tat game?
Suppose I compliment you sincerely. Will you throw the compliment back in my face by denigrating that which I complimented you for, thereby impugning my judgment?
At the beginning of last night's debate, both the president and the governor received the applause of the audience. But Obama did something Romney did not do: he began applauding. I've seen Hillary do this sort of thing too. Maybe it's a liberal behavior. Who was Obama applauding, and for what reason? Was he applauding the audience for applauding him? I hope not. Was he applauding the audience for some other reason? But what did they do to deserve applause? Was he joining in the applause directed at himself? Or at Romney?
It is a ridiculous innovation, but then liberals are big on ridiculous innovations.
Humble acknowledgement is the correct response to applause. Take a bow, nod your head, say 'thank you,' but don't start applauding in the manner of 'monkey see, monkey do.'
And another thing. The correct response to 'thank you' is 'you're welcome,' not 'thank you.' Humbly accept the thanks of the one who wants to thank you.
Addendum 10/24. A reader claims that Stalin, Mao, and Saddam Hussein used to applaud themselves. So maybe this is another case where PC derives from the CP. A little poking around turned up this: "Zizek is also known to call himself a 'good Stalinist,' and there is reason to believe that he fancies himself a petty Stalin, going so far as he sometimes does to adopt Stalin's habit of clapping for himself with an audience."
I seem to recall having written a couple of posts about Slavoj Zizek. I should bring them over from the old blog.