REVIEW: Cash Nickerson — Negotiation as a Martial Artist (BOOK)

At the risk of being terribly informal, Cash Nickerson simply put is the man. In the spirit of entertainment value nonfiction literary achievements like Donald Trump’s Think Big and Kick Ass and The Art of the Deal, he seamlessly blends drier statistical analysis with surprisingly psychodynamic and universally fascinating insights into navigating the various pitfalls of the human psyche. Drawing a comparison to the mentality present in those who practice and specialize in the martial arts, Nickerson states that negotiation is much cut from the same cloth — only existing on a less tangent and less visceral intrapsychic level. “Understanding ‘why’ others want something or you want something is critical. Suppose you want to buy a car.


Why do you need it? Do you need it to commute to work? Do you need it to drive around on a Saturday night? Do you need it for your job? Which of those motivations is most important?” he writes. “I have seen a topic that has surfaced in negotiation literature called Investigative Negotiation. In negotiation literature, this topic is described as a tactic…I don’t see it that way at all. For me, the approach I describe is not a tactic; it is a way of life that carries over into negotiation. These principles will help you not only become a better negotiator, but will assist you to become a better person. Negotiation is a socially rich experience woven into our everyday life.”

It’s through this three hundred-and-sixty degree worldliness Nickerson intellectually applies, juxtaposed with a decidedly simpler house style that solidifies his new book, Negotiation as a Martial Artist: Techniques to Master the Art of Human Exchange, in a league of its own. By covering so many chameleonic bases that share a single, intellectual whole, he enables the audience to have the cake and eat it too. Citing analogous quotes at the heading of chapters ranging from anything concerning a Japanese proverb to a Jimi Hendrix quote, the guy literarily feels like a gangster (proverbially speaking), expert, and adept storyteller all wrapped into one. He never creates a cult of personality, although it would be easy to as the book does display a natural swagger. But Nickerson has too much class to let that happen.

He’s not interested in showcasing time and again how he achieved his own considerable status in life, nor the origins of his hard-earned wisdom about the negotiation tactics he swears by. Instead, in the manner he advocates for, Nickerson simply lays everything out as succinctly as possible for the reader. Doing so means he both makes the more ambiguous and translucent tricks of the trade accessible for the widest possible audience, simultaneously proving his own negotiating abilities by winning the reader’s whole and unconditional trust by the end of the book’s last chapter.


“Awareness in a negotiation context means understanding the entire theatre within which you are playing,” Nickerson states. “The major themes around negotiation are awareness of the terrain…If you don’t get the big picture, you will miss factors that may be (negotiable). Often the greatest impediment in a negotiation is not being aware of the big picture…” By making all of these facets and psychological building blocks wholly comprehensible, Nickerson is able to show the reader the ironic simplicity of such blocks’ ultimate cruxes. Really, he states, good negotiators make good neighbors. Just throw in a healthy dose of calculation, and you may very well be on your way to clinching the most ideal version of a desired outcome.

Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer