I have a Google alert on the phrase “being strategic,” partly to see what’s happening with my book, but partly because I find so fascinating all the disparate (and sometimes contradictory) ways people use those words. Here’s one I found particularly interesting and unfortunate:

InterActiveCorp’s dating website company Match.com has acquired Singlesnet. Singlesnet offers similar services as Match.com. Match.com sees the acquisition has having value rather than being strategic. SinglesNet will continue to operate as an independent company.

What? Being strategic is the opposite of adding value? If I dig down through this, it implies the writer is defining being strategic as “doing something solely to take out a competitor, rather than as a direct benefit to your business.” This is an implied definition I’ve seen more and more lately: being strategic = being manipulative or aggressive. Or even deceptive or inauthentic. To that point, here’s another of my Google alerts, from someone’s Tweet:

Being strategic is too exhausting. If I love or hate you it will show. Wish more ppl were like that. I don’t have the patience to fake it.

I find it irritating when perfectly good and useable words or phrases start being defined in limiting ways—like “feedback,” which has come to mean “telling you something bad about yourself” (vs. “providing input”) or “buxom,” which has come to mean “fat” (vs. “curvy and voluptuous”).

I’m sticking to my much more useful and actionable definition of being strategic:

Consistently focusing on those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.