Are you an open book or not?
I cannot actually say for what reason this happens but I've never had a time in my life where I wasn't holding several confidences at once or people didn't come up to me to talk. Even at my various places of employment I was always the go-to girl. My empath really bloomed over this past year. I've gotten so I can read something or look at a photo and receive a strong impression. I've healed relationships and given solid advice that furthered people in the correct paths for their own lives.
Even people who are naturally reticent or known as stand-offish or stuck-up open up in my presence. People often take my hand or touch me, too. Quite frequently there are tears or a begging look in their eyes. And then, a calming and a settling. Like you said it's the listening we do that seems to help most. And when (if) I reply back it's like I've stepped aside and my mind takes over and what comes out of my mouth is entirely spontaneous. And I feel such a love, respect and compassion for the person. That's the most striking aspect.
My maternal great grandmother was an empath. In her day they called her a wise-woman. And my maternal grandmother read tea leaves, palms, and did card readings. Is it passed on? As a child I often saw visions related to those around me. As in one case, the outline of a crying angel above the head of one of my mother's best friends. A while later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Do you have someone you can be yourself with @hop-daddy? Someone who understands the trials of an empath? By nature empaths work alone but a supported and loved empath does better work. IMO