In the workplace today, we are likely to have a diverse mix of culture, age, race and gender balance. Nonverbal communication varies amongst all of these and also on the different contexts of the workplace i.e. meetings, conferences, tea breaks etc.
Early morning when arriving at the office, colleagues usually wave their hands and give a smile to greet each other depending on the relation you may have with the colleague. If it is a senior manager then the wave and smile may be more reserved. The senior manager will not necessarily wave and smile back but may just nod to show that they acknowledge your gesture. Colleagues who work closer to each other or may have developed a good relation, shake hands. Amongst Kenyans, colleagues may slap their hands together signifying the level of their friendship. If this was done with a European, they might get uneasy. In some cultures, women do not shake hands with men, however if a man insists, this may weaken the relation between them and make office work difficult to accomplish in case their work is closely related.
Depending on the performance, a supervisor may tap the supervisee on the shoulder, give a smile and nod their head signifying work well done. However, if the work does not meet expectations, this usually involves shaking the head from side to side, frowning, clicking, clasping the hands and a big distance between them. The supervisee may look down and fiddle with their hair or ears signifying nervousness. These may vary depending on the culture or race.
During tea time, when colleagues gather at the coffee station or cafeteria, there may be groups formed either in terms of race, culture, age, status or gender. If you do not belong to a particular group, it becomes difficult to try fit in. If you try to mix, depending on the characteristics of the group members, you may be welcomed or rejected. Welcoming may involve creating of space (when groups form circles) and a smile from the group members. However if your presence is not appreciated, this may involve frowns or use of unfamiliar gestures contrary to your race/culture. The circle may form without you in it or the group may just disperse.
During office meetings, attending on time may give the chairperson a lot of information. If all the staff attend before time or on time, it may indicate that the agenda is very important or interesting or that the chairperson is highly respected. However, if people turn up late or not at all, it may signify that the meeting is not taken seriously, it is a waste of time or people do not respect the chairperson. During a meeting, if someone clears their throat very distinctly, it may mean that there is something being said which needs attention. If the speaker clears their throat, it may show nervousness, unclear knowledge of the subject matter or the speaker is tying to get some thinking time. If staff members begin yawning or looking outside the window, it means that they are tired or not interested...