Politeness takes different forms in different countries. In the Netherlands you say what you mean; in some other countries you say many things out of politeness, without really meaning it. ‘Shall I help with the dishes?’ is a good example.
It was hilarious to hear the traditional Portuguese professor analyzing the situation, which he could not understand. How can you let your guests do the dishes? Even a professor?! As for me, I have stopped asking if I should help with the dishes, unless I am really prepared to do it. However, I do ask myself why guests in Portugal cannot do the dishes and why we ask things we do not really mean, and call it politeness. Maria Barbosa, researcher Biobased Products en involved at Algea Parc.