Think of it as Persia’s raquet sport. Here’s an example of a typical point:
Player 1: (serving) May I offer you some tea?
Player 2: (receiver, really wants the tea) Oh, no thank you!
Player 1: No, really, it’s no trouble.
Player 2: That’s okay, I’m fine.
Player 1: But I insist.
Player 2: Well, if you insist.
Who wins the point? Can they both win and lose? Wikipedia’s article on taarof contains the following excerpt:
It is a way of denying your will to please your counterpart, however the will is only denied because of the custom and not to please the counterpart. But there are situations where tarof persist upon a request to make the counterpart genuinely satisfied. Tarof often causes misunderstandings between both parties and is a source for awkward situations in a social setting.