Trust me, Gambro, you are NOT alone. Sadly though I have no explanation for your question. Many nurse managers have neither the people skills, experience or education for their positions. Facilities employing these managers are partly to blame-where I work new managers recieve no formal training in dealing with workplace issues. I think these facilities have a responsiblity to their managers and staff to give these people the training they need.
Another thing is that many times when nurses move into management they no longer have any involvement in direct patient care. Look at doctors who are involved in eduction, administration, research, etc.-for the most part they still see patients and stay current in their practice. The further away nurse managers and educators get away from the bedside the less they understand the issues of direct caregivers.
In my observation, we all have different needs for power-people with a strong desire for power tend to gravitate to management. These are often the people that have no reservations about using other people to get where they want to be. This is the person that will focus and "sucking up" to their administration and the doctors to get ahead, and have no interest in addressing the concerns of their employees.
In all fairness, many mid-level managers are in impossible positions-they are charged by their bosses with keeping costs down regardless of the cost to patients and staff, and then on the other end they can't satify their staff.
Getting back to your question-how to you handle those people- it beats the heck out of me! Doing things to help advance your DON's objectives, such as helping her with special projects, etc. would probably be one way to boost your status somewhat, at least in her eyes, and she would be less likely to hassle you at least.
Sorry I'm no help, but I wish you the best.