As more employees air out their toxic workplaces on social media, more and more of them are hoping to help others navigate the corporate world. The latest career advisor on TikTok to warn others of the grievances of working in corporate America is Kyaah Abdul, a creator who mostly focuses on career tips and her life working in biotech.
In a viral video, Abdul responds to a comment left by a viewer on one of her previous videos concerning “corporate rules [she] lives by.” Abdul’s number one rule was “do not trust your co-workers,” with which many commenters agreed.
In the follow-up viral clip, Abdul replies to a viewer who learned the hard way that her middle-aged co-workers were out to get her.
@kyyahabdul Reply to @skyenatalie isk what it is about middle aged co workersss but it feels like bitterness #careertoktik #stemtok #careeradvice #careersavage #biotech #pharma ♬ original sound – Kyyah Abdul
“It was the middle-aged women where I was at 22 that literally put me in this mindset of, oh I cannot trust my coworkers for real, for real,” Abdul says. She adds that an incident with her younger co-workers later on in her career proved to her that she can’t trust anybody, period.
She elaborates on the interactions she had with a middle-aged co-worker early on in her career that eventually led to her almost getting fired. Abdul claims she got a job working at an Ivy League university straight after college because she went to a career fair and a school representative immediately took a liking to her. After connecting with the people in the school’s public health sector, Abdul says she got the job without even interviewing.
The animosity at work began the moment she met her middle-aged female co-worker.
“The day she met me she hated me,” Abdul says. According to her co-workers, the woman was trying to get her daughter the position Abdul had just taken, which might’ve explained why the woman was bitter.
“I was like, ‘how is that my problem?’ I didn’t know her daughter wanted the job as well,” she says.
This allegedly led Abdul to have a rocky start at her new job, eventually affecting her relationship with her boss as the co-worker would do everything in her power to sabotage Abdul.
“If I made a mistake, she made sure my boss knew, if I didn’t come to work at 9 o’clock she made sure my boss knew,” she says.
The issue came to a head when Abdul tried requesting a day off, she says. The TikToker claims she had given her boss ample notice and was under the impression the vacation day was approved. But when it came close to the vacation time, Abdul’s boss allegedly told her she couldn’t go.
“I was really confused when she said that,” Abdul says. “She told me, ‘if you don’t come to work on Tuesday, you’re not gonna have a job to come back to on Wednesday.’”
“Honestly, don’t let your bosses have these power trips over you,” Abdul continues. She claims she went straight to HR and got her vacation day approved.
“The only reason why she didn’t want me to go on vacation is because my co-worker made it seem like I was never doing my job,” Abdul says. “Co-workers. Don’t trust them.”
Abdul’s video received more than 177,000 views as of Friday. Hundreds of comments were in agreement with her, sharing their own experiences with less-than-friendly co-workers.
“DO NOT trust your co-workers. These people are not your friends. People of all ages tbh,” one user wrote.
“Just like how u were never friends w/ ppl u did group projects with in school…u are not friends w/ ppl u wrk with. Just see it as a group project,” Abdul replied in a comment. “Finish the assignment and move on with your life lol.”
“Be cordial, keep it short and respectful, and move along. Learned this the hard way, especially with long-term employees, they will talk about you,” another viewer echoed.
Others weren’t so sold on the idea that all co-workers were simply looking out for themselves.
“I hate this rhetoric. I dealt with horrible coworkers but I have also learned that coworkers can be a real asset if done properly,” one user argued.
One user pointed out that Abdul’s mindset was perhaps a necessity for young Black women.
“Unfortunately, I believe this is the case for young black professional women,” another viewer said.
Update 2:08pm CT August 5: Abdul told the Daily Dot via Instagram direct message that she has worked in similar office capacities since then, but that now she’s cautious about what she shares in the workplace.
When asked about one viewer’s stance that a co-worker can be an asset, Abdul disagreed.
“A co-worker should have no bearing on an organization’s desire to promote someone,” she wrote. “Your direct manager is the one with the most power at the end of the day. What is important is being kind, professional, and likable by team members which can be achieved without being ‘too close’ to them.”
As for why she believes middle-aged people in particular behave this way, Abdul attributes it to a multitude of things.
“Some people cannot stand people with ambition,” she said. “Others wish they made different decisions in their career and hate the fact that a younger person is in the same position as them. I guess a good summary would be jealousy, regret, and their inability to separate personal issues from the workplace.”
Abdul explained that she never directly confronted that co-worker, simply because it wasn’t worth it, however, she says it definitely played a role in her leaving the job.
“Ultimately my manager threatening to fire me if I took two days off is what motivated me to leave the job, but the workplace bullying was absolutely a major factor,” she added. “It’s funny because when I told my co-workers I was leaving to work for a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company, they tried to downplay that opportunity. Misery loves company, and I was so happy to be leaving that pool of unhappiness.”
Based on her experience, the creator compares working in corporate America to playing a game of chess. “It’s complex. It requires great intellect, strategy, analytical skills, and adaptability,” Abdul concluded. “It can be exhausting and of course frustrating but when you master the art of chess, each game (each job) becomes easier to navigate.”