From time to time I am given work to critique. I usually pause, my hand on the manuscript, and ask: "Do you want a hard read or a light critique". They always answer "hard". I proceed to take it apart then with a hammer and a crowbar. I often think to myself, "they should have gone with the 'light'."
However, I am now rethinking this approach. If a student gave me a paper to correct, I wouldn't pounce. Instead, I focus on one aspect. I might critique for paragraph unity. Maybe I'll look for run-on sentences.
I think when someone hands me a manuscript that I might stop offering the "hard" or "light" choices and instead just focus on one or two things. The problem I have with that is twofold: First, there is the danger of that person handing the manuscript back to me after corrections have been made. I don't have time to reread it, and in most cases, I don't want to reread it. The second problem with the above approach is that people might assume that the elements I've found to be flawed are the only problems in the manuscript.
Then there's a third option...stop critiquing. I won't do this, of course, I am too much a teacher.