I've noticed in China that people don't tend to use as many 'polite' words as we do in western languages, like 'please' or 'thank you'. I want to make it clear that I'm not complaining about this; I find that such niceties are often overused in English, to the point where they become insincere.
In English I would automatically say 'thanks' whenever someone does something for me. In China I found I got some quizzical looks doing this with
谢谢 (xiè xie).
Perhaps another example is when in restaurants I've heard people screaming
服务员! (fú wù yuán) across the room, whereas westerners would raise a hand, or try to make eye contact, or say 'excuse me'.
So my question is, in China, how polite is too polite? When is it appropriate to use things like
麻烦你 (má fan nǐ), and when should I restrain the impulse to avoid sounding weird?