How to avoid splitting the bill when you ordered one drink

How to avoid splitting the bill when you ordered one drink
Photo by Rachel Claire

This scenario is quite easy to imagine, you are having a meal or drinks with some friends, business colleagues or acquaintances. For whatever reason you may not feel hungry or not particularly like the food and drink at that establishment. So you decide to go light, maybe order one drink or a starter. This is very much under par to what everyone else is doing, where they are banqueting lavishly. When it’s time to pay someone says something along the lines of “let's just split this, it’s much easier”.

Not sure if you have encountered a situation like this or something similar. Obviously every scenario has its nuances but the idea is that from a principal standpoint you don’t feel like you should pay for something you did not eat or drink, especially if that bill is quite a pricey one.

This is a common situation, but the solution to the problem eludes many of us.

The first thing to unpack is that one has to analyse the relationship you have with the people you are out with. Are they relatively close or people you rarely go out with?

A bit off topic but if you know them quite well and you still have these types of issues when you go out, they might not be your ideal company. Good company that know you well would acknowledge that you did not order much and offer to pay your share in some cases.

Secondly, is to look at the reason this happens. It is either the group is not paying attention to your issue that you did not order that much. Or some of them are very intentional in their strategy of ordering sumptuously knowing that their cost will be spread across the group.

Based on the above, one will assume you have a close relationship with your friends and there is a synergy in the habits of how you go out. We will take the assumption that this scenario is for managing people who are not very close to you.

In this instance the easiest and most straightforward thing to do is to not vocalize your opinion out loud.

“but, I only ordered …..”.

I am sure this is a rather uncomfortable situation that you don’t have to be in and although you may be in full right to question the bill, you might not want to present yourself in public that way either.

The best thing to do is to take charge, make sure before someone asks for the group bill you have called the waiter and told them what you ordered and that you will pay for it separately and if he can give you the bill and form of payment. This can even be done earlier on so the waiter is aware that you are paying separately and will give you the opportunity to enjoy yourself.

This is masterful in getting your objectives met and not having to discuss the bill issue publicly. Also, if the group does request to split the bill your will not be included and the waiter usually would mention that you already paid your share, or you can mention it yourself and this is not viewed negatively at all, compared to challenging someone about splitting the bill in public.

Read more