Sending an emoji to a potential partner might seem a nice thing to do - but be warned, too many well-intentioned grins could be proving a major turn-off.

Research released today found 70 per cent of Kiwis used the digital expressions in everyday conversation, but it came with a few warnings.

Those in the dating scene might want to think twice about hitting send, as the majority (54 per cent) said overuse or "spamming" of emojis put them off a potential partner.

But it was a double-edged sword, with 36 per cent saying they used them cautiously at the start of the relationship to "clarify tone", with 35 to 44 year olds the most cautious (45 per cent).

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The 2degrees survey of 2000 Kiwis also came with some useful workplace tips.

While emojis were increasingly common on the job there was a clear generation gap, with the potential for a winking smiley face to have a very different meaning for a recipient.

While one in two of us used emojis to give a sense of tone and avoid being misunderstood, half of those surveyed had used emojis in the wrong context, with 17 percent getting into trouble for it.

Victoria University linguistics professor Miriam Meyerhoff said there was a generational divide in interpreting emojis. Photo / Supplied
Victoria University linguistics professor Miriam Meyerhoff said there was a generational divide in interpreting emojis. Photo / Supplied

Victoria University linguistics professor Miriam Meyerhoff said people could interpret emojis in different ways, and their meanings did not always cross generations.

"This can be a minefield in the workplace. A wink face might be used in a flirtatious way by people who wouldn't dream of sending one at work, while for others it signifies a friendly and light-hearted comment at the end of a work email."

The survey found emojis could positively change the way people viewed their colleagues and lead to better connections at work.

Nearly one in three (29 percent) said using emojis changed their perceptions of their workmates, with the majority (59 percent) saying it was for the better.

"Language and communication norms are constantly changing and it's clear that emojis have a part to play in this," Meyerhoff said.

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"It's interesting to see that young women are leading the way as the biggest users of emojis, which fits in with other studies that show they usually drive language change."

They were most commonly used among younger people too, with 94 per cent of those between 16 and 24 using emojis in everyday digital conversations, while just 51 per cent aged 55 to 64, and 35 per cent over 65 used them.

2degrees chief consumer officer Scott Taylor said while emojis were a great form of communication, it was important to know how to use them appropriately. Photo / Supplied
2degrees chief consumer officer Scott Taylor said while emojis were a great form of communication, it was important to know how to use them appropriately. Photo / Supplied

For most people it depended how well they knew their colleague before they hit send, but 40 per cent of those surveyed would send one if they thought a workmate could use a smile.

However, 42 per cent of those aged over 55 thought it was unprofessional to use emojis at work.

The older crowd also thought the boss was off-limits, with one in two people over the age of 45 saying it was inappropriate to send one to the person in charge.

But that was not stopping those at the top, with 41 per cent of workers having received emojis from their boss or manager, and one in four saying they felt less intimidated by those in senior roles who sent a smiley face.

2degrees chief consumer officer Scott Taylor said the survey provided lessons for how people could improve workplace relations.

"Relationships are built on good communication and the growth of technology is giving us new ways of talking, including through emojis.

"It's not surprising that younger people, who have been brought up with a mobile phone in their hand, are comfortable using emojis, but the rest of us aren't far behind with 70 per cent of Kiwis using them."

It was important - as in all good conversation - to know when it was appropriate to use emojis, and who to send them to.

"We're constantly seeing new symbols being introduced and with that comes more opportunity for people to express their feelings in different ways," Taylor said.