"What's in it for me?" is a question too many people ask far too often. Oh, not to your face. Not so you'd hear it, or even hear about it. But the idea of grace - of doing someone a solid just cuz - is practically nowhere to be found. Everyone wants leverage, even over their closest friends. Even over their loved ones. We're all guilty. While on vacation in Florida, I agreed to my wife's tattoo knowing that doing so would ensure that she wouldn't bother me if I decided to see Captain America: Civil War a second time.
I can't say she implied a quid pro quo, but with deep chagrin I can admit to inferring it.
Why? Why do we do this? Why do we trade favors instead of just granting them? Why do we position everything as "if you do this, I'll do that?" Why can't we just start with "can I help you?" or, in the converse, "can you please help me?"
When I was in South Korea for a business a few months back, I was fascinated by the sheer politeness baked into their culture. And I'm not talking about the bowing (nifty as it was). I'm talking about basic dinner table etiquette.
Nobody in South Korea ever pours their own drink. Ever. And nobody - I mean nobody - asks for a refill. Ever. If you're thirsty, you pick up the water pitcher and begin refilling other people's glasses. Then you put the pitcher down and go back to your food while the folks you just topped off scramble to be the one who gets to top off your glass.
Not because they have to. Because they want to.