When I was a design instructor, I often had to give feedback to many students on their design projects in a short time frame.
I had to evaluate what is “good” or “bad” design and give appropriate feedback fitting the project, student skill set, and phase of their learning.
And, the truth is, it’s a delicate balancing act.
Being too soft with feedback (too indirect), we lean towards being too nice and supportive. Telling the designer the design is “OK” and “keep iterating.” The recipient is left with little pressure – thinking that they don’t need to worry too much and that they just need to keep moving forward.
Being too hard (too direct), we risk hurting feelings and demoralizing the person. Telling the designer their work is “sub-par” or not acceptable. The recipient is left with a LOT of pressure – and can shut down and not feel our feedback is useful to design iteration, but is rather a personal attack.
This same principle applies to the workplace. The trick is to give balanced feedback.