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 victims look bad. The methods of tormenting their targets 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 victim who knows it is happening, and if he tells someone else about it, he’s apt to be met with disbelief. The innocent target is easily labeled as the troublemaker. The sociopath has the whole scheme figured out and has it well rigged with virtual trip wires. The victim’s reactions to the abuse become additional ammunition for the abuser, who uses it to manipulate bystanders to side with him and to inflict more harm and distress onto his victim.