The way you handle gratuity in front of a client can make a lasting impression. Here are a few situations where all eyes are on you -- do you know the protocol for tipping in the corporate environment?
Do: Pick it up quickly. When you extend an invitation for a business lunch, make sure the bill is swiftly moved out of your guest's line of sight. Don't allow it to "sit" on the table for any more than a few seconds. While you don't need to immediately pull out your wallet, quickly slide the bill into your own personal space, out of your guest's range. This will clearly send the message "I'm taking care of this".
Don't: Leave room for discussion. The most professional way to handle a bill is to arrive early, speak to your server or the manager of the restaurant and alert them that you will be responsible for paying the check. Instruct them to close out the bill, add 20 percent and bring the bill directly to you at the end of the meal, along with your credit card. Let them know you will give them a signal that you are ready to leave, which will be their cue to close out the bill. This alleviates the awkward back and forth conversation, "Please let me...", "No, I insist...", "Really, I want to..." scenario.
Don't: Excuse yourself from the table during, or after dessert. This gives the impression you are hoping the bill will arrive in your absence. It's a very uncomfortable feeling for the guest to leave the bill on the table, "waiting" for you to return. Unless it's an emergency, stay seated throughout the meal, and use the men's or ladies room after you've said goodbye to your guest.
Do: Tip those who serve you water. If you are eating at a "buffet" style restaurant where there is no official waiter, but an attendant who occasionally refills your water glass, while running back and forth to get you more ketchup and lemon, make sure to include a thank you in the form of a tip. While gratuity may not be required at a self-serve buffet, a small tip is not only a nice gesture, but leaves a positive impression with your guest.
Don't: Skip a tip. If you are unhappy with your service, or server, tip 10 percent. Walk your guest to the door and return to speak to the General Manager. The key is to handle the matter away from the table, and out of range of your guest. There could be a number of reasons something didn't go as planned and it's not appropriate to skip a tip. If your client or guest witnessed the transgression, it could potentially damage your professional relationship.
Do: Tip the valet upfront for a special favor. Normally you would tip the valet when receiving your car. But, if you have a special request, give the valet an incentive to oblige. Tip once again when you leave as customary gratuity.
Don't: Be Obnoxious. A tip is "To Insure Prompt Service" and you are offering a gratuity to those working hard to establish a positive experience. Flashing bills around, and acting as if you are a "big spender" is extremely unsophisticated and achieves the exact opposite of what you are striving to accomplish. No one respects a braggart.
Do: Tip for future service. Every professional knows the value of good service. Make every effort to be a respectful and responsible tipper. The average restaurant tip is a minimum of 15 percent of the bill, steadily moving upwards, 18 percent to 20 percent, and even higher for exceptional service.
For more of Diane's Tipping information, you may also like: Tipping Etiquette | Manners When Traveling. Visit Diane's blog, connect with her here on the Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.