While being direct in your communication with someone can lead to them thinking you are offensive, it is the best way to communicate your concerns. In the long term, being direct pays off.
Many years ago I had an employee who had shocking body odour. Subtle approaches did not work. A direct approach about their smell resulted in the problem being resolved. They stayed on for years and we had a good relationship. This was a win for being direct.
More recently, I had another employee with an odour problem – not this is not something I seek in hiring people! – and I approached them believing, by then, that direct was better. I wasn’t rude, at least I didn’t think I was. I explained that after a couple of hours work they started to smell and it was being noticed by co-workers and had been noticed by customers. They resigned a few days after I spoke with them.
Some topics are challenging to approach directly but that should not stop us. Being direct is not about being rude, it is about communicating your concerns clearly and directly, proving all the information necessary for them to act on what concerns you. The alternative is a meandering indirect route and that can end you up somewhere you do not want to be.
A spade is a spade is a terrific figure of speech, it reflects how we should communicate in business.