I have degrees in painting, English lit and did coursework in graphic design. I was a designer, art director and copywriter in the past. I learned the art of the gentle critique...as well as how to interpret that critique. (FYI, I have both heard all these, and used all these at one point in my life.)
  1. Well, it's not really my aesthetic.
    It's ugly.
  2. I don't really love it.
    I hate it.
  3. It has some good points.
    But mostly a lot of bad points.
  4. There's a difference between vague and ambiguous. This feels a little vague.
    It looks/reads like a lot of bullshit.
  5. It looks like someone put a lot of effort into that!
    Wasted time.
  6. Well that's...interesting.
    I have no opinion on it.
  7. Look at that!
    I have absolutely no opinion on it!
  8. I'm kind of speechless.
    I don't know what to say. So I'll just say this meaningless phrase instead.
  9. Huh!
    Give me a moment. This is so awful I don't know where to start.
  10. I'm not really feeling it.
    Start over and trash this one.
  11. This has potential.
    You have a lot of work to do.
  12. Keep going!
    You have a shit ton of work to do.
  13. Hmmmm...
    See above "Huh!"
  14. Why don't you take another pass at it?
    Completely scratch that idea and start fresh. It sucks.
  15. I see what you're trying to do here.
    Barely. Make it clearer. Make it more succinct. Clean it up.
  16. You must have really worked hard on that!
    I still hate it. But A for effort!
  17. [Bonus: see also @white_lightning's list "WORDS, I AS A PROFESSIONAL, USE DAILY TO TALK ABOUT WORK"]