They’ve spent decades acquiring and refining a skill set they most likely first learned on the playground. Studies have shown that childhood bullies often grow up to become adult bullies.
These “adults” have developed ingenious ways to cover their tracks while making their targets look bad. Methods of tormenting are also more sophisticated. The direct in-your-face approach won’t work in a professional or social setting, so they indulge in underhanded maneuvers and hit-and-run assaults.
Adult bullying is particularly insidious. It is often only the targeted individual who knows it is happening. If he tells someone else about it, he is apt to be met with disbelief and possibly also labeled as the troublemaker. The sociopath has planned the whole scheme and has it well rigged with virtual trip wires. The target’s reaction to the abuse becomes additional ammunition for the abuser, who uses it to manipulate bystanders to side with him and to inflict more harm and distress onto his target.