I apologize for not letting this subject drop, but I'm very passionate about it.
Please. PLEASE...Be honest when you're critting someone's work.
You don't have to be mean, and you don't have to tear them down. But please remember that a person joins a crit group in order to get honest feedback that will help them improve their writing. They do it so that when they take their MS out into the world to shop for agents, they don't get every door slammed in their face.
When you fail to point out problem areas, and instead choose to mindlessly rave about it because you don't want to hurt their feelings, you're doing them a _complete_ disservice. You can cheerlead, but for the love of God, tell them the TRUTH. Isn't that what you want? Sure, compliments are nice...but if you have a legitimate problem, don't you want to know, even if it stings a little to hear it said out loud?
Without too much detail, I'll share with you an experience I just had. I crit a person's (we'll call this person a 'he' so I don't have to continually say "this person") work. It was the first chapter I'd read of his work. I hadn't so much as read a crit of his work done by another person. Basically, I was completely clueless as to where he was in the critting process.
The chapter had some big problems. I pointed them out and made suggestions as to how he could fix them. I pointed out what was good about the chapter and tried to be as gentle as possible. Guess what? He is now scrapping the book entirely. YUP. Wanna know why? Because, as I found out later, he had always felt he had certain problem areas -- even went so far as to say, I think I need help with this and that. Rather than help him with those areas, the people critting the wip said NO... you don't have a problem, this is great. People, IMHO, who KNEW better.
And then I come along and reinforce his concerns by pointing out those very issues. Only, over the past few months, he's become convinced he doesn't have those issues in his writing at all. *bangs head on desk* Talk about a shock to the poor guy.
So, I'm left wondering -- WHY did they do that? Was it cheerleading and a fear of hurting their feelings? Or, as I suspect, was it an attempt to cushion the blows so that they'd receive crits in return? If that's the case, I think it's sad and pathetic.
You're there to receive truthful feedback that will help you improve. Be courteous to the other members in your circle -- give it back.