Am I heartless?
I don't get the reason to flatter somebody over a job that is subpar. Being an artist, I am a firm believer that if you see something you don't like about a piece, you tell the artist what it is (constructive criticism here). They can then use your criticism to either fix the piece, take it into heart the next time they do a piece, or tell you to go to hell and ignore what you said. I don't believe in being rude about it or anything, you can just say "hey, I really think that this color doesn't go well with this other color in the way you put them here, try a different shade, like a darker red perhaps.)
I've been getting this from my Image Editing class. There are some people who are awesome in the class, and then there are others who are still learning the software and therefore because of their experience, they are prone to having work that is not as clean as the others. Often times, I get the impression that other students in the class are catering to these students by telling them "this looks great!" when it is obvious that there is plenty of room for improvement. I won't cater to your feelings by telling you a piece looks great if it doesn't, however I will acknowledge improvement and encourage them to keep working at it. Undue flattery doesn't help anybody, and I have found that you learn greatly from your mistakes.
In fact, I learn more from my mistakes then my successes. As long as my mistakes aren't fatal, I generally only make them once because I learned from them the first time. I like to be told what I'm doing right and not have every mistake pointed out to me, granted, but please give me constructive criticism and tell me how I'm doing. Let me know if I totally messed something up or if it doesn't work. I'm a big girl, I can take it.