Don't waste your time trying to find out what "taarof" means in English.
You HAVE to be an Iranian to understand that, it's not a "word" to be translated, it's a whole dictionary on it's own !
Sometimes I deal with this situation myself , It doesn't HAVE to be a word for word translation , just toss your hands up in the air and say,
"I DUNNO" !! Raahat..........LOL
Or a method to stabilize otherwise hostile interaction OR, Prelude to hostile interaction OR, fencing off an argument or a responsibility....I think it's waste of time sometimes, but it's a handy method to what your heart wants to do but you can not afford to do.
Taarof is a part of our culture
It’s not a bad thing if you know the rules of the game
But, god saves you if you don't.
By the way any one out there knows what is traarof in English